Annual Lecture in Anthropology looks at diversity, equality and justice

University of Florida Professor Faye Harrison will deliver the inaugural Annual Lecture in Anthropology – "Diversity, (In)Equality & Justice: An Anthropological Perspective on Globalization, Human Rights and the Politics of Culture" – on Monday, Oct. 20. Organizers hope the lecture will become an annual event.

A reception and book signing for Harrison, director of African-American Studies as well as a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida, will run from 5:15 to 6pm, followed by the lecture from 6 to 7pm, at 305 Founders College, Keele campus.

Right: Faye Harrison

The lecture will address difference and diversity, primarily structured around intersections of race, gender and class – what Harrison calls major sites of conflict over human rights and cultural legitimacy.

"Such conflicts appear to be intensifying in contexts in which intergroup boundaries and relations are being reconfigured in the light of recent flows of intra- and trans-national migration and the accompanying conditions of economic restructuring and political realignment on domestic and global scales," says Harrison.

In particular, the lecture will look at a US case of activism, organized around the post-civil rights politics of a southern regional network, coordinated by racially minoritized women.

Harrison’s latest book, Outsider Within: Reworking Anthropology in the Global Age (University of Illinois Press, 2008), examines how to critically reconstruct the anthropology discipline to better encompass issues of gender and race. Harrison advocates for research done in an ethically and politically responsible manner, promoting greater diversity in the discipline, rethinking theory and committing to a genuine multicultural dialogue. Harrison analyzes anthropology’s limits and possibilities from an African-American woman’s perspective while challenging anthropologists to work together to transcend stark gender, racial and national hierarchies.

Harrison is also the editor of Resisting Racism and Xenophobia: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Human Rights (AltaMira Press, 2005) and co-editor of African-American Pioneers in Anthropology (University of Illinois Press, 1998). She is in the Who’s Who Among Black Americans (Gale Publications), the Who’s Who of American Women (Reed Publications), Who’s Who in the 21st Century (International Biographical Centre, England), Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century (Oryx Press) and Routledge Biographical Dictionary of Social and Cultural Anthropology (2004).

A social/political anthropologist who specializes in the study of social inequalities and the politics that emerge in response to them, Harrison has written on the underground economy and political violence in Jamaica; the impact of the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment program on everyday life in an impoverished Jamaican slum; the effects of the Special Period and the US Embargo on Afro-Cubans; and the politics of racial, gender and class diversity in higher education and in the history of anthropology.

Her current research examines modes of political activism that approach racism and sexism as human rights violations outlawed by international law. She is especially interested in understanding the transnational alliances that activists are building in this effort. Harrison is also interested in the social and economic disparities of race, gender and class, and the ways in which they interact and operate simultaneously in everyday life.

In 2004, Harrison received the Society for the Anthropology of North America’s Prize for Distinguished Contributions to the Critical Study of North America.

The Annual Lecture in Anthropology is sponsored by York’s Department of Anthropology, Founders College, the Faculty of Arts Dean’s office, the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, the Graduate Program in Women’s Studies and CERLAC.