January 31, 2019
  • “Tragic but not Criminal: Challenging the ‘Objective Reasonableness’ of Police Killings” with Lisa Cacho

    January 31, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm 118 Lewis Katz Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802

    This presentation examines how police killings are racialized and gendered by focusing on the ways in which violence against women, girls, and gender non-conforming people of color are rarely represented as a crime. While race renders criminality legible and recognizable, criminality adheres to the bodies of women, girls, and gender non-conforming people of color differently, which makes their experiences with the criminal justice system less intelligible. White criminal defendants, like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, have rights that are respected. Police officers, like Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, have protections and immunities. Men of color victims, like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown, are legible as posthumously deserving (the pretense of) justice. But women like CeCe McDonald, Rekia Boyd, Jessie Hernandez, and Sarah Lee Circle Bear are never represented as entitled to any of these—rights, protections, or justice. For instance, McDonald is seen as a criminal (as in a person already condemned and convicted), but she was never treated as a criminal defendant (as in a person still legally innocent and technically rights-bearing). Her case is not an anomaly. Women, girls, and gender nonconforming people of color are excluded from participating in even the pretense of justice. As such, centering their cases exposes the ways in which the logic of “objective reasonableness,” which justifies police killings, is in itself highly gendered and therefore far from “objective” and “reasonable.”

    This event is free and open to the public.

    Learn more about Lisa Cacho HERE

February 1, 2019
  • Graduate student breakfast with Lisa Cacho

    February 1, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

    For more information, email

February 21, 2019
  • ‘Before the Human: Africans, Sovereigns & Slaves’ with Herman L. Bennett

    February 21, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm 160 Willard Building, Penn State, University Park, PA 16802

    This talk by Dr. Bennett asks how might the focus on eighteenth-century race and commodification obscure earlier and equally expansive ideas about difference and dispossession?  In taking up this question as a conceptual starting point, the talk charts a different, if not lost, genealogies of difference and dispossession that defined how Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries registered their encounter with Africans and subsequently classified some as subjects of sovereigns and other as sovereign-less subjects who could be enslaved.

    This event is free and open to the public.

    Learn more about Herman Bennet HERE

February 22, 2019
  • Herman Bennett - Faculty and Graduate Workshop - “Africa & the Formation of Afro-Latin America”

    February 22, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

    For more information or to RSVP, email

March 21, 2019
  • "The Racial Logics of Extraction" with Christopher Loperena

    March 21, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm 160 Willard Building, Penn State University, 16802

    Through an ethnographic engagement with the politics of frontier making in Honduras, I interrogate the racial logics of the extractivist development agenda that cohered in the wake of the 2009 coup. This developmental mandate is crucially bound up with dominant racio-spatial epistemologies, which render indigenous and black peoples as barriers to national progress. The suspension of democratic norms following the coup was used to usher in the sistema de la muerte (system of death) that has not only claimed the lives of dozens of land and environmental activists, but also resulted in the concession of over 30% of Honduran territory to foreign and national investors. I demonstrate the ways in which the expansion of extractive capitalism is contingent on a settler colonial logic of elimination, which positions blackness outside the spatial boundaries of the state’s sovereign political territory in order to hasten processes of accumulation for the national elite.

    This event is free and open to the public.

    Learn more about Christopher Loperena HERE

March 22, 2019
  • Christopher Loperena - Faculty and Grad workshop - "The Limits of Indigeneity: Pueblo Garifuna v. Honduras"

    March 22, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

    In October of 2015, following a decade-long legal investigation, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued two judgments against the Honduran government for its role in the violation of Garifuna territorial rights in the communities Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra. I examine how the legal arena becomes a crucial site of struggle not only for indigenous peoples but also for the state to extend its sovereign authority and to defend the supremacy of mestizo rights over the rights of indigenous and black peoples.

    For more information or to RSVP, email

April 3, 2019
  • "The Future of Black Studies (In Theory)" with Dr. Brittney Cooper

    April 3, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm Freeman Auditorium, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16801, USA

    More information to follow. 

    This event is free and open to the public.

    Thank you to the following groups for co-sponsoring with us: the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Department of Philosophy, the Office of Educational Equity, and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

    Questions? Email

    Learn more about Brittney Cooper HERE

April 4, 2019
  • Graduate Student Breakfast with Dr. Cooper

    April 4, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

    By invitation only.

April 17, 2019
  • "The Denial of Anti-Blackness: Multiracial Redemption and Black Suffering" with João Costa Vargas

    April 17, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm 162 Willard Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802

    This talk by Dr. Vargas will invite the audience to consider the concept of anti-blackness and the challenges of Black autonomous analysis and political organizing. He will bring to light how progressive research and progressive multiracial efforts that address Black suffering are often unable to engage foundational, structural, multigenerational, and ubiquitous forms of anti-blackness. In multiracial progressive mobilizations of the Black diaspora, Brazil and the U.S more specifically, Black suffering is acknowledged while anti-blackness is negated.

    This event is free and open to the public.

    Learn more about João Costa Vargas HERE

April 18, 2019
  • João Costa Vargas - Faculty and graduate workshop - "The Denial of Anti-Blackness"

    April 18, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

    This workshop will highlight the theoretical, imaginative, and political possibilities that a focus on antiblackness generates. Specific themes include, but are not in any way restricted to, the 2018 presidential elections in Brazil and how the election relates to similar phenomena in other historical moments and in other parts of the world. Reading the book The Denial of Antiblackness is recommended, but not required (digital edition available). Prerequisite: please propose discussion themes in advance via email. This is a participant-centered workshop.

    For more information or to RSVP, please email