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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., September 10, 2012 – Neil Roberts, assistant professor of Africana studies and faculty affiliate in political science at Williams College, has guest edited a symposium in the journal Theory & Event, published in September by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
The symposium features eight essays on what Roberts calls the Trayvon Martin event. “An event,” Roberts explains, “differs from a tragedy. A tragedy entails a plot, set of actions, and conclusion, often foreclosed and backward-looking. An event is an occurrence mutually reinforced by past actions and future outlooks, conversations, and prognostications on what we must do to decipher its meaning in its wake. The shooting of 17-year-old Martin is no different.”
Roberts clusters the essays into three groups. The first, he explains, explores issues of publicity, racial violence, jurisprudence, and the rationalizations of acts conducted by private citizens. The second delves into existential questions of race, and the third examines what is required for transformation in American race relations to occur. Essays include “Deadly Force and Public Reason,” by Anna Marie Smith, professor of government at Cornell University; “Trayvon Martin, Intersectionality, and the Politics of Disgust,” by Ange-Marie Hancock, associate professor of political science and gender studies at the University of Southern California; and “Stuff White White People Know (or: What We Talk About When We Talk About Trayvon)” by Mark Reinhardt, Williams College Class of 1956 Professor of American Civilization.
“My core assumption in the paper,” says Reinhardt, “is that white supremacy continues to be a fundamental political fact in the U.S., albeit one whose form has mutated in such a way that most white people deny, and probably do not believe, that it continues.”
The symposium is available online at Project Muse, a database of academic journals, and can be accessed at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_and_event/v015/15.3.roberts.html.
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.