The Department of Romance Languages & Literatures seeks to emulate and build on the thinking of previous generations of scholars and political actors who have recognized that the global presence of the languages we teach, as well as the related concomitant erasure of indigenous languages, are bound up with the histories of colonial and imperial domination, slavery, and genocide operative in this foundational act. These histories are ongoing and continue to shape the world in which we live and work.
This means not only promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion but also acknowledging the limits of the language of diversity and the ways in which this language has at times been used as a substitute for the struggle for justice. In addition, we are committed to studying, questioning, and challenging these histories and their afterlives in our teaching and research; creating an environment that promotes multilingualism as a means to disrupt the hegemony of English in academia; encouraging a multiplicity of experiences and identities in the classroom; addressing the evolving needs of our gender-diverse community; and, in small ways, contributing to the dismantling of white supremacy, racial capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.
During the 2021-2022 academic year, we are working on numerous projects including:
- Planning events that extend our engagement with abolitionism from last year, featuring scholars working on borders and migration and abolitionist organizers in Washtenaw County
- Developing a critical land acknowledgement project that aims to avoid “settler moves to innocence” by exploring the colonial history of the university and the department and centering demands of Native American organizers
- Reimagining “safety” in the department and putting these ideas into practice in material ways
During the 2020-2021 academic year, our work focused on the following projects:
- Organizing brownbag discussions/department-wide conversations on anti-racist pedagogy
- Planning a series of events and workshops with scholars and activists whose work focuses on race, policing, and the university
- Producing and publicizing resources about abolition and transformative justice to start putting these ideas into practice at the department level
- Facilitating a collaborative process aimed at centering antiracism in the department
Contact the RLL DEI Committee at RLLDiversityCommittee@umich.edu