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Abolitionist Organizing in and around Washtenaw County

Juan Sanchez, Movimiento Cosecha
Angel Bravo, Movimiento Cosecha
Maria Thomas, Literate! Don't Incarcerate
Zoe Jackson, Michigan Solidarity Bail Fund
Alejo Stark, Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity

A roundtable discussion featuring organizers with four local groups or organizations doing abolitionist political work in and around Washtenaw County. Speakers will discuss the projects their groups are working on, how they participate in and envision abolitionism, and some of the challenges that abolitionist organizing encounters. This event has been organized by the Romance Languages and Literatures department's DEI committee as part of a series of programming on the politics of abolition in the wake of the George Floyd uprising.

The Black Mediterranean and the Global Struggle for Abolition

Ida Danewid, University of Sussex
Camilla Hawthorne, University of California, Santa Cruz
Angelica Pesarini, University of Toronto

A virtual, interactive lecture with members of the Black Mediterranean Collective on  borders, abolitionism, and collective research. This event was organized by the DEI Committee of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Cops Off Campus Research Collective

Talk: “Abolitionist University Studies: An Invitation”

Workshop: “The Cops Off Campus Research Project”

The public talk proposes an abolitionist account of the university and its history in the United States, pushing back against both romanticized histories and nostalgic critiques that distance the university from slavery and settler colonialism. The workshop will focus on the Cops Off Campus Research Project, a crowdsourced, nationwide study of the nexus between universities and policing.


No More Promises: Policing Feminist Rage in Puerto Rico

Marisol LeBrón, Assistant Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, University of Texas at Austin

This talk will trace the ways that activists and ordinary citizens mobilize rage in order to navigate the constraints of colonial capitalism in contemporary Puerto Rico. I argue that the state is preoccupied with the growing rage being articulated by Puerto Ricans, particularly Puerto Rican feminists, because rage has the potential to create networks of solidarity grounded in a refusal of the current order. Both the local and federal government have increasingly criminalized articulations of political rage and have utilized the Puerto Rico Police Department to repress displays of rage in the streets. Looking at recent examples, I show that in their collective rage, Puerto Ricans who had felt silenced by colonial capitalism, misogyny, queer antagonism, and racism have found a way to push back and articulate a different way of living in Puerto Rico.

Full Video Recording


From Africa to Patagonia: Qualitative Outcomes from a Humanities Collaboration

Ana Silva Campo, with Nick Henriksen, Lorenzo García-Amaya, Ryan Szpiech, and Matthew Neubacher

We offer an overview of our collaborative project entitled “From Africa to Patagonia: Voices of displacement”. Since 2017, we have been funded through the Humanities Collaboratory, a cutting-edge research initiative established at the University of Michigan. Our interdisciplinary team includes eight faculty, eight graduate students, and 32 undergraduate students. Our mission is to analyze how language is entangled with cultural identity through the Patagonian Boers, a community that traces its roots to the South-African Boers who settled in Argentina after the Anglo-Boer War of 1902. We have disseminated our findings through six research articles, five public essays, and a digital archive. Our public essays, published in outlets such as Babel, The Conversation, Clarín (Argentina), Times Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed epitomize our goal of engagement beyond the academic sphere. In this talk, we will explain how our collaboration emerged, how we refined our collaborative process, and how we fostered undergraduate involvement in our research. Altogether, we demonstrate that altering the traditional educational structure while encouraging agency and creativity yields new forms of learning for all involved.


MLK From the Eyes of an Afroboricua, Afrolesbian, and Afrofeminist

Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Every time I walk into a classroom, any group of students, or a young audience in Puerto Rico, I request if they can give me a lists of any abolitionist’s names (abolicionistas o liberadores). MLK is always pronounced. Although this has colonialist’s reasons concerning our island political status, and while some appear to ignore other crucial personalities within the LIBERACIÓN (freedom movement) inside the Puerto Rican arena, I have learned to use this so called “advantage” to connect with my listeners. This lecture will intent to be a reflection of my personal work for the past decade on migration, LGBTTIQ issues, Afroidentity and antiracist popular education inside our communities.

O Corpo Na Diáspora: Body, Diaspora, Autonomy and Power

Luciane Ramos Silva

Through a mixture of talk and workshop, Luciane discussed creative proposals of Brazilian women artists, whose reflections point to understand dance and performance as areas of production of knowledge in light of the political and social urgencies of our times. Among the topics that these women artists deal with are women incarceration, self-care and healing and the condition of nonnormative bodies.

Hostile Terrain: Exploring Border Security and Migration in 2019

Raúl O. Paz Pastrana, Director of Border South film, Producer, Cinematographer
Jason De León, Producer, Advisor, Director of Hostile Terrain Exhibition, Anthropology
John A. Doering-White, Field Producer, Advisor, Sound, Anthropology and Social Work
Lucy Cahill, Curator of Hostile Terrain Exhibition

Hostile Terrain is a Pop-UP Exhibition about America's Humanitarian Crisis at the Southern Border. This participatory political art project is organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective, directed by associate professor of anthropology Jason De León.


Black God, White Devil: Herzog and the Slavery Film

Joshua Lund, Professor, University of Notre Dame

What are the dominant relations between race, capitalism and history in the slavery film? In this lecture Lund explored the possibilities and limits of this question, with special attention paid to Werner Herzog's unusual contribution to the genre, Cobra Verde (1987).


Visibility in Education: Teaching Argentina's Black History

Afro-Argentine Organization: Agrupación Xangô

This event gave a brief historical overview of African migrations in Argentina and the current situation of African and Afrodescendant migrants and refugees in Argentina and their main tensions: Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia.

Agrupación Xangô is a dynamic Afro-Argentine association whose mission is to forge bonds with international groups, promote the visibility of Afro-descendants, enhance global scholarship, and advocate for social justice and human rights in Argentina and throughout the African diaspora.  

Trumped Up: Combating Misinformation about LatinUs and Our Language(s)

Ana Celia Zentella, Professor Emerita, University of California/San Diego and Hunter College/CUNY

In her talk, Prof. Zentella discussed recent debates about language, truth, facts, news, and the rise of linguistic intolerance and hate crimes. As she indicates, “An anthro-political linguistic perspective helps us understand the recent attacks on speakers of other languages by the general public, employers, teachers, judges, senators, and by the President and his advisors, by explaining how racial ideologies of superiority/inferiority and purity/contamination have been remapped from biology onto language, with damaging repercussions for the education, employment, and safety of people of color who speak varied languages.”

Can Our Black Lives Matter If Our Languages Do Not Matter?

Michel DeGraff, Professor, Director of MIT-Haiti Initiative, MIT

Martin Luther King Jr's dream through the lens of linguistics and education. This event was made possible through a Rackham Faculty Allies Grant.

RLL Department-Wide Book Reading
Teaching the Whole Student: Engaged Learning With Heart, Mind, and Spirit

In Winter 2018, RLL hosted a department-wide reading of Teaching the Whole Student: Engaged Learning with Heart, Mind, and Spirit. The text is centered around themes related to students' social identities, civic engagement, diversity and social justice. Three discussion sessions were scheduled, each focused on a different part of the book. The RLL Diversity Committee provided the book free to department members participating in the initiative.


The Romance Creoles are Not Bastard Tongues; they are Legitimate Offspring of their Lexifiers!

Salikoko Mufwene, Professor, University of Chicago

Focusing on French creoles, Professor Mufwene shows that the Romance creoles are new Romance vernaculars that diverge from their lexifiers in ways similar to the divergence of the latter from Vulgar Latin. In some ways, the creoles are less divergent from their nonstandard lexifiers than the traditional Romance languages are from theirs, prompting us to factor in the significance of layers of language contact (during their longer history) in shaping the structures of neo-Latin vernaculars in Europe. Their non-rectilinear and non-unilineal evolutions also remind us of the competition that obtained among the numerous neo-Latin vernaculars within their national borders and the particular role of academies in aspiring at linguistic unity and artificially influencing their evolution.


Ghostly Labor in the Levantine Prism of Jacqueline Kahanoff

Amr Kamal, Professor, City College of New York (CUNY)

Living in colonial Egypt, Jacqueline Kahanoff had a unique experience shared by the members of her class and generation. Kahanoff was a Jewish Francophone and Anglophone writer from Egypt born to Tunisian grandparents who owned a famous department store. Taking the store as a model for citizenship, she suggests an alternative notion of Mediterranean culture and Egyptian identity, which sought to decentralize European hegemony, a notion which she later dubs “Levantinism.” Amr Kamal analyzes her 1951 novel, Jacob’s Ladder, to examine the process through which Levantine culture developed amid several competing imperial and nationalist projects. In particular, he shows how the novel’s depiction of Levantine spaces documents the marginalized role of the working class in the education of elite Levantine society and its acquisition of cultural capital. His analysis also explores how the construction and sustenance of a celebrated image of the Levantine past depended on the racialization of labor, or what he calls “ethnic classism.” Through this latter process, a labor force made up of other Levantines was Orientalized and relegated to the background where it served to highlight a European-like Levantine cosmopolitanism.