The African American Studies Department at
The Pennsylvania State University
is pleased to announce a conference titled

“Racial Disposability and Cultures of Resistance”

co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
October 10-12, 2019
Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, PA 16803


The conference is the culminating event of the department’s Sawyer Seminar Series, which aims to explore how practices, institutions and laws demographically distribute and neglect civil rights, concentrating the use of force and threat of incarceration on particular communities with limited recourse to investigation and remedy. The series also explores how black communities, particularly youth, artists, and activists, have produced a rich repertoire of aesthetic practices, popular cultural movements, and activist traditions that refute the normalizing logic of racial disposability by asserting the creativity and resilience of Black life. 

Our concluding conference aims to deepen our engagement with questions of disposability and resistance by bringing new voices into the conversation. Keynote speakers include Fred Moten (New York University), Lisa Cacho (University of Illinois), and Roopali Mukherjee (City University of New York). Panels, roundtables, film screenings, and performances will speak to the sub-themes of the series: restructuring criminal justice, redistributing resources, and resisting in/visibility. We aim to bring together researchers, educators, students, activists, and artists across the humanities and social sciences: African American and diaspora studies, gender and sexuality studies, history, literature, media studies, philosophy, sociology, etc. The conference will be archived as part of the Black Intersections Project, the digital humanities component of the Sawyer Series, which will eventually be an interactive resource for teaching, research, and collaboration at the intersections of racial disposability and cultures of resistance.

For more information and to submit a proposal, see .



Registration for the 2019 Sawyer Seminar Series Culminating Conference will open in late Spring 2019. Please check back then for details.


A guestroom block has been reserved at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. When reserving a room through the guestroom block, please reference GROUP CODE: SAWY19AThis guestroom block expires Wednesday, September 11, 2019. Guests can contact Central Reservations by calling 1-800-233-7505 and referencing the Group Code or by going to this secure website:

Cancellations 24 hours in advance; all individual reservation cancellations within 24 hours of arrival date are subject to a cancellation charge equivalent to one night stay.


Contact Morgan Johnson, Sawyer Seminar Graduate Assistant & Conference Coordinator, at