Northwestern Events Calendar


GLOBAL LUNCHBOX | Race, Caste, and Colorism — A Conversation with Laura Brueck & Ivy Wilson

When: Friday, March 4, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Cindy Pingry  


Category: Global & Civic Engagement, Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Multicultural & Diversity


Register for the Zoom link:

Please join us for the Global Lunchbox, a weekly conversation convened by the Weinberg College Center for International and Area Studies at Northwestern University featuring conversations with scholars about their current research on a range of critical global issues.

Our guests this week will be Northwestern Professors Laura Brueck and Ivy Wilson, co-directors of the new Race, Caste, and Colorism Project, a working group of the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs.

About the project

With a focus on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #16, Peace and Justice and Strong Institutions, the Race, Caste and Colorism Working Group will help foment intellectual and institutional shifts in the ways scholars and writers think about local manifestations of caste and casteism, and race and racism, as part of a global semiotics of colorism.

Colorism creates forms of consciousness—categories such as light and dark, good and evil, enlightened and unenlightened, for example—that manifest locally and persist globally. The persistence of color and colorism not only inflects different world systems, but also constitutes a particular world system itself.

Through publishing and translation work, curricular development, literature and the arts, the Race, Caste and Colorism group will advance the idea of colorism, knitting the globally oppressive structures of race/racism and caste/casteism together, while also accounting for the historical, religious, regional and cultural differences between them.

The group also aims to create key moments of intersection between leading and emergent artists engaging with the history, present, and future of race, caste and colorism—to develop 21st-century versions of the political and intellectual exchanges of the mid-20th century that brought together people like Ambedkar and DuBois, or King and Nehru. To this end, the group will host a regular slate of activities, including artists’ and writers’ workshops, scholarly conferences and storytelling seminars, and create dedicated publishing channels for stories grounded in living in caste, race and colorism.

About the guests

Laura Brueck is Associate Professor of South Asian Literature and Culture and Chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Northwestern. She specializes in modern and contemporary Hindi literature, with a particular focus on literatures of resistance, popular literatures, and translation studies. Her work for the last decade has focused on Hindi Dalit literature, or resistance writing by those formerly known as “untouchables.” She is the author of Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of HIndi Dalit Literature (2014). Brueck’s areas of specialization in teaching include South Asian literature in Hindi/Urdu, English, and in translation, Bollywood cinema, Indian epic literature, the theory and practice of translation, and South Asian civilization, with a particular focus on the modern politics of caste, class, and gender. She is a core faculty member in the Comparative Literary Studies Program and the co-director of the Global Humanities Initiative.

Ivy Wilson is Associate Professor of English at Northwestern. teaches courses on the comparative literatures of the black diaspora and U.S. literary studies with a particular emphasis on African American culture. His book Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Nationalism (2011) interrogates how the figurations and tropes of blackness were used to produce the social equations that regulated the cultural meanings of U.S. citizenship and traces how African American intellectuals manipulated the field of aesthetics as a means to enter into political discourse about the forms of subjectivity and national belonging. He is co-editor of Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (2014) and Whitman Noir: Black America and the Good Gray Poet (2014). His current research interests focus on the solubility of nationalism in relationship to theories of the diaspora, global economies of culture, and circuits of the super-national and sub-national.

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