New Mellon Research Initiative Explores Racial Capitalism

racial campitalism A new Mellon Research Initiative, Racial Capitalism, brings together UC Davis College of Letters and Sciences faculty and graduate students to examine the historical relationship between race and capitalism. The inaugural event, “What Is Racial Capitalism? Reflections on Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition,” takes place Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. in Voorhies Hall Room 126.

Along with outside scholars and activists, the group will spend three years focusing on inequality, value, bondage, labor and freedom across the disciplines of race and ethnic studies, American studies, history, literary studies, law, economics, sociology and anthropology.

Racial capitalism refers to how white individuals and predominantly white institutions use non-white people to acquire social and economic value. The initiative is co-directed by English professor Mark Jerng and history professor Justin Leroy under the auspices of the UC Davis Humanities Institute. The initiative is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“The term ‘racial capitalism’ is meant to insist that race and capitalism have always been historically connected, a connection that tends to be actively and willfully erased by popular media and scholarship alike,” Jerng said. “This initiative is working to energize thought on topics of racialization and inequality at a time when the urgency of these debates is being felt at campuses across the nation.”

Other programs of the initiative this fall:

Oct. 18, 4 p.m., 126 Voorhies Hall: “Data Farming: Seeding a ‘Data Revolution’ in African Agriculture,” Zenia Kish, lecturer, Stanford University.

Oct. 25, 4 p.m., Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art: “Assembly and Riot,” Michael Hardt, professor of literature, Duke University, and Joshua Clover, professor of English, UC Davis.

Nov. 1, 4 p.m., 228 Voorhies Hall: “Racial Capitalism and Literary Studies,” Adrienne Brown, assistant professor of English, University of Chicago, and Jerng.

Nov. 14, 4 p.m., 126 Voorhies Hall: “Racial Capitalism and U.S. Empire,” Javier Arbona, assistant professor, American studies and design; Ofelia Cuevas, assistant professor, Chicana and Chicano studies; and Anjali Nath, assistant professor, American studies.

Nov. 29, 4 p.m., 126 Voorhies Hall: “The Colonial and Racial Nature of Extractive Capitalism,” Alyosha Goldstein, associate professor of English, University of New Mexico.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science

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