Race in Focus Series

Among the first African Americans to join the American Communist Party and an important architect of communist approaches to race, racism, and African American equality, Lovett Fort- Whiteman (1889-1939) was one of the US citizens convinced (naively, to be sure) that Soviet society showed the way for overcoming racism in the United States. While visiting the USSR in 1924, Fort-Whiteman wrote to W.E.B. Du Bois: “There is a perfect spirit of internationalism here.” “Women from the various Circassian republics and Siberia, men from China, Japan, Korea, India, etc. all live as one large family, look upon one another simply as human beings ... Here, life is poetry itself! It is the Bolshevik idea of social relations, and a miniature of the world of tomorrow.”

Communist positions on race and racism have yielded both successes and failures worldwide since 1917. Despite the mixed results, Fort-Whiteman’s words recall the impact that global colonialism has had on the social construction of identity, including in our world region; its legacy on research and teaching in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (SEEES); and its effect on perpetuating systemic inequities in academia as a whole. To address this legacy, this series is designed to elevate conversations about teaching on race and continued disparities in our field while also bringing research by scholars and/or on communities of color to the center stage.

The series will comprise four segments: two pedagogy webinars; two lightning rounds on the experience of minority scholars in the field; and two roundtables featuring research by scholars of color and/or on racial minorities, concluding with a forum on the reception of the Black Lives Matter movement in our field.


Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, University of Chicago
Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of Michigan
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Center for Slavic and East European Studies, Ohio State University
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, Indiana University, Bloomington
Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington

Choi Chatterjee, California State University
Morgan Liu, Ohio State University

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
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