Fiscal Year 2020
Brown University Financial Report

Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America

Through thought-provoking discussions, exhibitions and scholarship, CSREA is helping define, investigate and raise awareness of systemic racism in the U.S. and beyond.

While the U.S. grapples anew with pervasive anti-Black racism, incidents of police violence and profiling and a heightened understanding of systemic injustice, scholars engaged in research and education at Brown’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) have long been interrogating these and other entrenched problems. And as the global novel coronavirus pandemic spread in spring 2020, CSREA engaged in programming about the ways in which the health crisis is exacerbating a complex network of inequities and disparities the center has been spotlighting consistently.

Founded in 1986, CSREA was one of the nation’s first academic centers dedicated to research, scholarship and academic exchange on race and ethnicity. In the three decades since it was established, CSREA has fostered rigorous cross-disciplinary research, meaningful conversations and new approaches to critical issues affecting Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other communities of color.

In recent years, the center has spotlighted systemic racism — discriminatory practices that influence individual opportunities and hurdles and drive inequality in housing, education, health and employment. The center enables faculty to investigate some of today’s most entrenched societal problems, from white supremacy to immigration policies to ethnic stereotyping and police aggression, through research projects, seminars and fellowships.

a portrait photograph of Tricia Rose

There is a chronic need for more humanities-based scholarship and courses on issues of race and ethnicity, as this is a field that often finds itself underfunded and marginalized. Expanding research and courses on this topic, and expanding community access to discussions on race, will help us take a significant step toward creating a reflective and inclusive multiracial democracy.

— Tricia Rose, CSREA Director and Professor of Africana Studies

Among the CSREA faculty and postdoctoral fellows researching systemic racism are Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, whose latest book “The Waiting Room” examines how suffering caused by pre-trial incarceration extends beyond the jail cells and into the communities, and Daniel Rodriguez, whose research reveals how struggles over disease and health shaped the lives of Havana residents during Cuba’s transition from colonial rule to independence.

The center is also a thriving hub of cross-disciplinary graduate student research, thanks to a fellows program and opportunities for research grants and professional development for master’s and Ph.D. students at Brown. In 2020, graduate fellows at CSREA were at work on projects focused on the criminalization and political function of the “gangsta” figure and the intersection of Black religious thought and colonialism in the 19th century.

CSREA also provides a dynamic portal for the Brown community and the public to explore challenging issues through art exhibits, films and lectures featuring respected scholars.

logo for the Janus Series Race and in America
The discussion series “‘Race &’ in America,” curated by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, was established to examine throughout the 2020-21 academic year the ways in which racism shapes multiple facets of society — from public health to democracy to punishment — through discussions with experts at Brown and beyond. The inaugural event featured insights on the history and legacy of Black slavery from Anthony Bogues, director of Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice; Emily Owens, an assistant professor of history; and Seth Rockman, an associate professor of history.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not impeded the center’s roster of academic activities. In spring 2020, CSREA Director Tricia Rose launched the virtual conversation series “Underlying Conditions,” which engages experts across disciplines on the dynamic and multifaceted impact of the global health crisis on already vulnerable communities of color. The series explored unique threats the pandemic posed to the health and livelihoods of Black business owners, immigrants, current and former prisoners and more. It explored how COVID-19 has intensified the daily struggles of groups already facing unequal access to food, safe living conditions and health care.

The series expands upon the center’s rich programming, which often examines events of the past to better understand the issues of ethnicity and race in the present. A 2019 Hip Hop Lecture Series hosted by Rose — whose seminal text, “Black Noise,” is a crucial starting point for scholars studying the intersection of art and society — shed new light on the musical genre by drawing connections between the systemic oppression of Black Americans, anti-Black police violence and hip hop’s rise in popularity. In February 2020, historians, anthropologists and race scholars gathered on campus for a screening of “Strike for Freedom: Frederick Douglass in Scotland,” where they discussed the legacy left by Black abolitionists in the 19th century and the enduring effects of slavery on society today.

The 2019-20 art exhibit “Resilience,” offered both in person and online, showcased work by 26 artists that focused on the perseverance of underrepresented groups in the face of discrimination and marginalization. And another 2019 exhibit, “Joy + Justice,” invited the public to consider the art of living joyfully while fighting for justice for those who are marginalized.

In the 2020-21 academic year, the study of race and ethnicity at Brown is thriving and expanding, thanks in part to a new $4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant, awarded to CSREA and academic centers at three fellow institutions, is bringing to the center new “humanities labs,” where students and faculty will collaborate on performances, community partnerships and research projects focused on specific themes and social issues; expanded course offerings; and a series of free, public events, including conversations between authors who write about race in America.

Expanding and amplifying the impact of CSREA is a priority in the University’s Building on Distinction strategic plan.

Additional Areas of Impact:

Brown is leading the way in understanding slavery’s enduring legacy in the U.S. and across the globe, inspiring study and action at other American institutions.
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The Political Theory Project is transforming political discourse by diving beneath easy ideological labels and encouraging debate between brilliant minds from across the political spectrum.
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