Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Events & Workshops

  • Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

    Online Event: Please register here.

    AS PART OF THE MITCHELL CENTER'S SOCIALISM/CAPITALISM/DEMOCRACY SERIES, join scholars ANDREW J. DOUGLAS (Morehouse College) and JARED A. LOGGINS (Amherst College)to discuss their new book, Prophet of Discontent: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Critique of Racial Capitalism. Our current moment is one of particular crisis, from the ongoing pandemic that has intensified previous inequalities to the aftermath of the George Floyd Uprisings of the summer of 2020. King's diagnosis of the interlocking systems that uphold racism and capitalism provides crucial guidance for us today. Drawing on original research in Morehouse College's Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, this book explores King's ideas about the welfare state and capitalism, the nation and imperialism, and the government and redistribution. The authors also give accounts of King's lasting influence and "the lost promise of Black study," a call to turn back to the Black radical thinkers who simultaneously grasped the dire straits of struggle today while recommitting to worldmaking projects. Moderated by M. EDITH SKLAROFF.

    ANDREW J. DOUGLAS is a professor of political science and a faculty affiliate in Africana studies and international comparative labor studies at Morehouse College. In addition to Prophet of Discontent, he is the author of In the Spirit of Critique: Thinking Politically in the Dialectical Tradition and W. E. B. Du Bois and the Critique of the Competitive Society.

    JARED A. LOGGINS is a visiting assistant professor of Black studies and political science at Amherst College.

  • Thursday, February 3, 2022 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

    Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
    133 South 36th Street, Basement Auditorium
    Please register here.

    JOIN THE PHILOMATHEAN SOCIETY AND MITCHELL CENTER for a discussion with CARL HART (Columbia University), a preeminent expert on the effects of recreational drugs on the mind and body – and a leading opponent of the decades-long effort to eliminate this kind of drug use. Hart argues instead that, when used responsibly, drugs can enrich and enhance our lives. He is open about the fact that he uses drugs himself, in a happy balance with the rest of his full and productive life as a researcher and professor, husband, father, and friend. His new book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups, draws on decades of research and Hart’s own personal experience demonstrate that the criminalization and demonization of drug use – not drugs themselves – have been a tremendous scourge on America, not least in reinforcing this country’s enduring structural racism.

  • Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

    Hybrid Online/In-personOnline Event: Zoom link and links to papers sent to registrants.
    Please register here.

    University-Led Displacement vs. Homeowner Democracy: The Knowledge Economy and the Black Homeowner in Philadelphia

    Meghna Chandra (Penn School of Social Policy & Practice)

    MEGHNA CHANDRA INVESTIGATES THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNIVERSITY-DRIVEN development, especially for the African American communities that surround the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Drexel University. She uses the theoretical contributions of W.E.B. Du Bois and David Harvey to conceptualize Philadelphia’s high rate of black low-income homeownership as a result of the struggle of the black workers and communities for democracy and the Right to the City. She conducts a spatial cluster analysis showing that university-driven development is leading to the conversion of single-family homes into apartment buildings and multifamily rentals. In thirty-three qualitative interviews, she finds a vision of the city among developers, city officials, and university administrators that seeks to “bring Manhattan to Philadelphia,” but a contrary vision among long-time residents, community activists, community institutions, and homeowners for whom density is a shorthand for social, economic, and political displacement. Density and affordable housing — and an ideology of urbanism — as conceptualized by city planners, university officials, developers, and new residents, clash with communities’ definitions of what the urban fabric of Philadelphia should be, as well as what truly affordable housing looks like. Chandra shows how resistance to university-driven development, whether it is the movement against the building of Temple’s Stadium, or the drive to “save-zone” neighborhoods by rezoning them from mixed residential to single family, are led by black homeowners to preserve homeownership, and are rooted in the historic struggles of the black worker in Philadelphia.

    Connected Citizenship: Racial Hierarchy, Social Networks, and Immigrants’ Political Participation

    Stephanie Chan (Princeton Political Science)

    THE AMERICAN RACIAL HIERARCHY HAS INFLUENCED MANY ASPECTS OF POLITICS, including public opinion and vote choice. Access to cornerstone facets of democratic citizenship like voting have often been restricted by race and immigrant status. How does the American racial hierarchy influence immigrants’ political incorporation in the contemporary United States? STEPHANIE CHAN argues that as immigrants of different races integrate into the United States, they also incorporate into different norms of political participation. This process begins in the first and second generations and it impacts relative rates of political participation. Social networks reinforce these norms and lead to higher levels of intention to vote and greater likelihood of seeking information on electoral politics but only for white immigrants. Only white immigrants report a greater intention to vote and seek further information about aspects of participating in politics when they are reminded on their interpersonal network. Using the United States Census Current Population Survey Supplements and the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, Chan finds that many traditional theories of political participation cannot explain the participation gap between white immigrants and their Asian American and Latino counterparts. Her original survey experiment, which was fielded on Cint in Spring 2021, then tests the impact of one’s social network on political participation. Differences in social network forces for immigrants of different races lead to differences in rates of political participation in key acts of citizenship. The racial hierarchy creates differences in which immigrants’ voices are heard in within American democracy.

  • Thursday, February 17, 2022 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

    Forum (Room 250), Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
    Map Accessibility

    A panel discussion with FAWAZ GERGES (London School of Economics and Political Science) and TIM MITCHELL (Columbia University) moderated by NADA MATTA (Drexel University) and EILEEN RYAN (Temple University).

    THE HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA has long been shaped by regional and global politics. Sitting at the crossroads of trade and migration, it has been a site of imperial conflict, a cradle of world religions, a major source of the twentieth century’s most valuable commodity, and a focus of Great Power foreign policy. In considering the impact of the current constellation of regional and foreign relations on the Middle East’s internal development, FAWAZ GERGES and TIM MITCHELL will grapple with a wide range of questions. What are the most salient geostrategic rivalries now at play? How does international pressure influence movement toward (or away from) democracy and women’s employment and rights, among other forms of social change? How do capitalism and imperialism continue to shape the region’s infrastructure, economic development, and public policies? What is the role of religion in public policy and regional politics in the MENA, and how has it changed over the years?


  • Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

    Online Event: Zoom link and links to papers sent to registrants.

    Negotiating Ordinal Citizenship: Quantifying and Certifying Disability in India

    Kim Fernandes (Penn Anthropology and GSE)

    RECENT LEGISLATION IN INDIA OUTLINES A COMPREHENSIVE FRAMEWORK for the rights and entitlements of people with disabilities to state services. However, the process of being counted and legally certified as disabled is at best fraught, due to which roughly 60% of all disabled people in India are not officially certified as having a disability. As a result, despite recent nation-wide attempts to statistically quantify disability in the most accurate manner possible, numerous peoples’ embodied experiences of otherness remain unvalidated. People with disabilities face significant challenges in their everyday lives but are not able to participate in social entitlements largely because their bodies are outside of the margins of state acceptability. KIM FERNANDES examines the politics behind the production of knowledge on people with disabilities by examining the role of state and non-state actors in identity-making around disability and the subsequent production of statistics as bureaucratic facts. She asks, what does it mean to be numerically produced as a disabled citizen? How do bureaucratic structures and medical attempts to make the disabled body knowable influence and come to be influenced by everyday experiences of the embodiment of disability? Fernandes shows the ways in which discourses on counting the disabled population as paradoxically work at once to produce citizens who are managed and made legible within a known category while often continuing to stigmatize and exclude these citizens.

    Promises I Can’t Keep: The Fight for the Family Medical Leave Act in an Age of Backlash

    Kwelina Thompson (Cornell History)

    “MR. BUSH,” REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN MARGE ROUKEMA IMPLORED the president in a 1990 New York Times op-ed, “keep your promise to American families.” Representative Roukema, along with a bipartisan coalition of congressional leaders, policy analysts, and activists, had finally pushed H.R. 770, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), onto President George H.W. Bush’s desk at the time of Roukema’s writing. A veto, however, was all but assured. Still, Representative Roukema reminded President Bush that he had campaigned on “family values and job security,” and that this long-anticipated, bipartisan legislation would fulfill both objectives: social policy for the dawning of a new economy. In fact, the Family and Medical Leave Act, under various headings and sponsors, had percolated through congressional halls since 1984. KWELINA THOMPSON analyzes the emergence of this key piece of labor legislation as it took shape amidst the labor and gender politics of the late 20th century. Despite its significance, FMLA is usually framed as capstone legislation to a long and tortured fight for women’s rights. She argues, however, that it reveals key dynamics not only in women’s politics in the late 20th century but also about corporate structures and the ways in which the nature of work shifted during the 1980s and 1990s. FMLA emerged at a unique time in American economic and political history when service work dominated the economy and women comprised a growing portion of the labor sector. Drawing on congressional records, the personal papers of academics, labor unions, and policy activists, Thompson places the debates about FMLA in their broader context: changing patterns of global industries, labor market shifts, and backlash politics, and dual-earner family composition.

  • Thursday, March 31, 2022 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

    Forum (Room 250), Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
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    A panel discussion with LISA ANDERSON (Columbia University) and NOURA ERAKAT (Rutgers University) moderated by HOSINE FETNI (University of Pennsylvania).

    AS THE MIDDLE EAST BECOMES INCREASINGLY DESTABILIZED – with armed conflict, civil wars, refugee crises and more – it may seem curious to focus on the issue of governance. But these factors are indicative of a larger trend: the collapse of the state system that defined the region for the better part of a half-century. Ineffective governments, unable to keep up with the expectations of citizens against the backdrop of globalization, failed to make the necessary adjustments to their state's social contracts. The political elite leaned into the use of repression and coercion to silence dissent, all while undermining the social and civic institutions necessary for the political participation and buy-in of citizens. Not only did this effort to quell popular uprisings backfire; it created the conditions necessary for extremist groups to thrive. As the region attempts to rebuild, an understanding of good governance and social trust is more important than ever. LISA ANDERSON and NOURA ERAKAT, moderated by HOCINE FETNI, discuss the meaning of governance in the MENA region, as well as electoral politics and political participation, separation of power doctrines, control of corruption, and the position of the global Middle East within the international order.

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

    Location TBD

    THE PENN POLITICAL UNION welcmes former U.N. Ambassador JOHN BOLTON. Bolton has managed to make himself controversial across the political spectrum with his advocacy of foreign intervention at a time when both parties, for different reasons, lean toward scaling back America's military engagements. A member of the Trump White House who had a very public falling out with the former president, he also has an important vantage point on upcoming elections. Join the five parties of the PPU in a lively discussion about a wide array of topics concerning both foreign policy and domestic politics.

  • Wednesday, April 13, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

    Room 350, Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics (133 S. 36th Street)
    Zoom link and links to papers sent to registrants.

    What Kind of Future leaders? An Analysis of Social Responsibility, Citizenship, and Democratic Participation in Youth Leadership

    Rehana Odendaal (Penn Sociology and GSE)

    THE LAST TWO DECADES HAVE SEEN A NOTABLE INCREASE IN THE PREVALENCE OF YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS targeting young Africans. While these programs differ along a range of dimensions – geographic location, definitions of youth, program format to name a few – an apparent shared focus is their view of youth leadership education as a developmental solution for the African continent. By framing youth as “the next generation” of African leaders, and these programs both implicitly and explicitly seek to find solutions to a perceived crisis of leadership, which some argue is responsible for the continents continued socio-economic instability. REHANA ODENDAAL uses discourse and thematic analysis to identify how approximately 200 Youth Leadership for Development (YLFD) programs operating in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa frame concepts of social responsibility, citizenship, and democratic participation. These three democratic nation states are useful case studies because of their economic and political regional influence as well as the prevalence of Youth Leadership for Development Programs in each state. By providing a framework through which to better understand the types of “future African leaders” being imagined by various state and non-state actors in the Youth Leadership for Development landscape, Odendaal seeks to understand contemporary discourses and practices related to democracy and citizenship in the African context.

    Realizing the Rainbow Nation: Negotiating Race, Intimacy, and Belonging in the “New” South Africa

    Sebastian Jackson (Harvard Anthropology/Africana Studies

    IN THE EARLY 1990S, LIBERAL VISIONARIES DESMOND TUTU AND NELSON MANDELA proclaimed that the end of apartheid would signal the dawning of a new and truly multiracial “Rainbow Nation” in South Africa. However, contrary to liberal hopes and expectations for reconciliation and integration, the end of apartheid in South Africa has not led to widespread racial desegregation and racial integration. This is especially true in people’s private and intimate lives. Under the political dispensation of white-minority rule, interracial marriages and sexual relationships were widely considered taboo. During apartheid (1948-1994), such relations were explicitly prohibited by law under the infamous “Immorality Laws,” which were only repealed in 1985. In this paper, SEBASTION JACKSON examines how the social and cultural legacies of apartheid’s race/sex taboo and its draconian anti-miscegenation laws continue to shape public narratives about racial identity and difference, and how these public discourses mediate people’s private expectations and lived experiences of intimacy, romantic love, and family in a nascent democratic society. Jackson seeks to understand how post-colonial/segregationist societies change over time, how globalization, neoliberal consumer culture, and digital media technologies are gradually renegotiating the limits and possibilities of love, transforming social and moral imaginaries, and how the digital diffusion of cosmopolitan values and aesthetic sensibilities are changing local norms, expectations, and practices of sex, dating, marriage, family, and nation-building.

  • Thursday, April 14, 2022 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

    Forum (Room 250), Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
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    A panel discussion with BANU BARGU (UC Santa Cruz) MURAD IDRIS (University of Virginia) moderated by ROXANNE EUBEN (University of Pennsylvania).