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Genealogies: A RaceB4Race Symposium

September 22-24, 2022

Genealogies: A RaceB4Race Symposium

Genealogies: A RaceB4Race Symposium

University of Toronto | September 22-24, 2022 

In person and livestreamed

What are the genealogies of racial formation? How do our histories of race-making, of imperialism and enslavement, live on in our present moment? What does it mean to excavate the historical, cultural, and political genealogies of race, and what does such a methodology look like? This symposium explores the multi-layered and interwoven strands of premodern racial formation. Even as it unfolds the critical genealogies that scaffold our understanding of race today, it places pressure on the intellectual and disciplinary conventions that will continue to inform our future.

Download the program

Invited speakers

  • Afua Cooper (Dalhousie University)
  • Wallace Cleaves (University of California - Riverside)
  • Kyle Grady (University of California - Irvine)
  • Miles Grier (CUNY: Queens College)
  • Nicole Lopez-Jantzen (CUNY: Borough of Manhattan Community College and Graduate Center)
  • Mira Assaf Kafantaris (Butler University)
  • Hassana Moosa (King's College London)
  • Nicole Spigner (Northwestern University)
  • Tamara Walker (Barnard College)
  • Jack Wiegand (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

An evening with Afua Cooper

September 22, 2022 | Keynote conversation

Multidisciplinary scholar, author, and artist, Dr. Afua Cooper is a fellow at the Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University. She is a pioneering scholar and researcher in Black Canadian history, and the leading expert in Canadian slavery studies. Dr. Cooper also chaired the scholarly panel that investigated Dalhousie University’s connection to slavery and anti-Blackness. She also lead the research efforts, and was the principal author of the subsequent report Lord Dalhousie’s History on Slavery and Race. These initiatives revealed the connections between the university and the Atlantic slaving systems.

Afua is the PI for A Black People’s History of Canada project housed at Dalhousie University where she teaches and holds a Killam Research Chair. Additionally, she is a member of the International Scientific Committee for the Routes of Enslaved peoples, UNESCO. Dr. Cooper was honored by Maclean’s magazine as one of the 50 most influential Canadians.

A celebrated poet, in 2020 Dr. Cooper was Awarded the Portia White Prize, Nova Scotia’s highest recognition for the arts. She is also the winner of the J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award for her poetry book Black Matters.


Urvashi Chakravarty (University of Toronto)

Liza Blake (University of Toronto)


This symposium draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The organizers are also grateful to the many supporting institutions at the University of Toronto:

  • Jackman Humanities Institute (Programme for the Arts Grant)
  • St. Michael’s College
  • Office of the Vice-President, International
  • New College
  • Department of English, University of Toronto Scarborough
  • Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Department of English, University of Toronto St. George
  • Department of Classics, University of Toronto St. George
  • Graduate Department of English, University of Toronto
  • Outreach, Conference, and Colloquia Fund, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • University of Toronto Mississauga Working Group Fund
  • University of Toronto Scarborough Working Group Fund
  • Office of the Vice-Principal, Research, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Faculty of Information
  • Canada Research Chair, Milton Seminar
  • Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies Institute
  • University College
  • Critical Digital Humanities Initiative
  • Centre for Comparative Literature
  • Collaborative Programme in Book History and Print Culture
  • McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
  • Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies

The Folger Institute’s Scholarly Programs will fund a limited number of travel and lodging grants-in-aid to support Folger consortium graduate students attending this RaceB4Race symposium at the University of Toronto.

Livestream information

The recording will be available to watch on the ACMRS YouTube channel afterwards. If you would like to be reminded of the ASU Live link at the time of the event, please register with the online only option.

COVID-19 safety protocols

Learn about University of Toronto's COVID-19 policies.

The symposium will take place in a room with large windows that will be kept open for maximum cross-ventilation (weather and sound permitting). Conference attendees are asked to mask indoors; please plan (and pack!) accordingly.

The reception will be held in an indoor/outdoor space.

Venue and parking

The symposium will be held in Seeley Hall in Trinity College, University of Toronto. Trinity College is located at: 6 Hoskin Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1H8, Canada

Please find a campus map and transit information here.


5:00 pm EDT - Seeley Hall

Keynote from Afua Cooper

Reception immediately following the keynote -  St. Michael's College

All talks will take place at Seeley Hall

9:00 am - 9:30 am EDT

Registration and coffee

9:30 am -10:00 am EDT

Urvashi Chakravarty | Opening Remarks: Genealogies

10:00 am - 10:45 am EDT

Miles P. Grier | Make an end to thy posterity: Reconnecting the Prehistories of Inkface

11:00 am - 11:45 am EDT

Wallace Cleaves | Anamnesis and Ancestry: A comparative Analysis of the Fragility and Centrality of Lineage in Medieval and Indigenous Literature and Tradition

11:45 am -1:45 pm EDT

Lunch break

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm EDT

Mira 'Assaf Kafantaris | Genealogies of Movement and Border-Crossing: The Case of Foreign Royal Women

2:45 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

Nicole Lopez-Jantzen | Genealogies of Race in Early Medieval Italy

3:30 pm - 3:45 pm EDT

Liza Blake | Brief Closing Remarks

All talks will take place at Seeley Hall

9:00 am - 10:00 am EDT

Registration and coffee

10:00 am - 10:45 am EDT

Tamara Walker | Genealogies of Whiteness in Latin American History

11:00 am - 11:45 am EDT

Hassana Moosa |  Marking Strangers: Muslims and Racial Profiling in Early Modern England

11:45 am -1:45 pm EDT

Lunch break

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm EDT

Jack Wiegand |  A Whim of Circumstance: Medievalization of the Native in Robert E Howard's Beyond the Black River

2:45 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

Kyle Grady |  Moors to Mulattos: Representations of Mixedness and their Early Modern English Antecedents

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm EDT

Ruben Espinosa | Closing Remarks