Politics: A RaceB4Race Symposium

May 4-7, 2021

Co-sponsored by Brandeis University and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Arizona State University.

As the first RaceB4Race event to bring classicists into conversation with early modernists and medievalists, this symposium combined scholars working to reconfigure, rehistoricize, and repoliticize the past.

This symposium invited scholars of history, literature, and other disciplines in the premodern eras to consider how the past frames the politics of race, how the politics of the past have influenced race in our disciplines, and how the politics of the present intrude upon, expropriate, and capitalize on these trends. In addition, this event focused on how the practices of scholarship and pedagogy engage with the politics of race and the racialization of politics in our disciplines.

RaceB4Race® is brought to life by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in partnership with The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Division of Humanities at Arizona State University. RaceB4Race is underwritten by the Hitz Foundation.

Invited speakers

  • Lubaaba Al-Azami (University of Liverpool)
  • Roland Betancourt (University of California, Irvine)
  • Yujhán Claros (Columbia University)
  • Shelley Haley (Hamilton College)
  • Joyce Green MacDonald (University of Kentucky)
  • Lyra D. Monteiro (Rutgers University)
  • Jennifer L. Morgan (New York University)
  • Stacey Murrell (Brown University)
  • Shyama Rajendran (Krea University)
  • Patrice Rankine (University of Richmond)
  • Jared Rodriguez (University of Alabama)
  • Scott Stevens (Syracuse University)

Keynote conversation: Ibram X. Kendi

RaceB4Race: A Conversation with Ibram X. Kendi on Stamped from the Beginning

Co-sponsored by Wellesley College

This conversation with Ibram X. Kendi will focus on his work on Stamped from the Beginning. In conversation with Ayanna Thompson, Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University and Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and the RaceB4Race Executive Board, Professor Kendi will discuss the long, premodern histories of race and racism. As the keynote conversation for the RaceB4Race Politics symposium, this event will ask questions about how racist ideas developed and became deeply rooted in our political culture.

Buy Ibram X. Kendi's books here. 

You may watch the recorded conversation here. 

Download the program

How to register

RaceB4Race is free and open to the public. You will need to register for each session individually.

Coffee talks are primarily intended for early career researchers. They will have a maximum of 12 participants and will be first come first serve. In an effort to allow everyone who wants to participate a chance to get a spot, please only register for one coffee talk session.

On the day of the session(s) you registered for, you will receive an automated email from Eventbrite with the livestream link to the email you registered with. Please check your spam/junk folders.

Coffee talks

RaceB4Race is not just a conference series, it is also a professional development and network community. Although RaceB4Race Politics will be held virtually, we want to preserve the space for these conversations. These coffee talks will be informal—imagine all of us gathered around the coffee station, eating donuts between the presentations.

To generate an engaging conversation, coffee talks will be limited to 12 registrants. In an effort to allow everyone who wants to participate a chance to get a spot, please only register for one coffee talk session. Spots in these sessions will be first come first serve. If interest in these sessions is significant, we will open more coffee-talk sessions.

These sessions are primarily intended for early career researchers.

RaceB4Race raffle

Everyone who registers for at least 1 session of RaceB4Race Politics before April 12, 2021 will be entered into a raffle for a printed program and other RaceB4Race swag! Winners will receive an email when the raffle closes requesting a mailing address.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

10:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT
Race, White Supremacy, and Field Politics

Introductory remarks

Shelley Haley - "Re-imagining Classics: Audre Lorde Was Right"

Scott Stevens - "Early Modern Indigenous Chronologies"

Jared Rodriguez - “Anti-Blackness, Medieval Studies, and Other Religions of Latin Christian Coloniality”

Q&A moderated by Dan-El Padilla Peralta

2:00 pm – 3:00pm EDT
Coffee talk: Online Safety with Dorothy Kim

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

10:00 am – 12:00 pm EDT
White Heritage Politics

Lubaaba Al-Azami - "Remembering Hans Sloane: Decolonial Disruptions to Archival Violence"

Lyra D. Monteiro - "What’s in a Column? Liberation Archaeology and Anti-Oppressive Pedagogy"

Shyama Rajendran - "The Politics of Language: Vernacularity and Racialization, Past and Present"

Q&A moderated by Urvashi Chakravarty* (updated from original schedule)

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT
Coffee talk: Collaborating and Organizing Across Disciplines with Joel Christensen, Dorothy Kim, and Ayanna Thompson

5:00 pm EDT - Pre-recorded conversation release on YouTube
RaceB4Race: A Conversation with Ibram X. Kendi on Stamped from the Beginning

Thursday, May 6, 2021

10:00 am – 11:00 am EDT
Coffee talk: Parenting while Teaching and Researching with Patricia Akhimie

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT
White Supremacy and Reception

Roland Betancourt - "The Far Right’s Whitewashed Byzantium"

Joyce Green MacDonald - "Finding Black Women in Shakespeare"

Patrice Rankine - "Pre-Racial Fantasies: Locating Antiquity and the American Stage at the fin de siècle"

Q&A moderated by Cord J. Whitaker

Friday, May 7, 2021

10:00 am – 11:00 am EDT
Coffee talk: Publishing Articles on Race with David Sterling Brown

3:00 pm – 5:15 pm EDT
Race, Gender, and the Politics of Intersectionality

Yujhán Claros - "Biology, Gender, Color, and the Racialization of Politics at Imperial Athens"

Jennifer L. Morgan - "Race and Reckoning—Slavery, Kinship and the Marketplace"

Stacey Murrell - "Black in Iberia: On Concubinage, Race, and Belonging"

Q&A moderated by Dorothy Kim

Closing remarks