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“An American Study: Whiteness”

U.Va. Art Museum To Hold Symposium Exploring Identity Politics And The Cultural Study Of Whiteness In The United States

November 5, 2004 --

WHAT:         Symposium: “An American Study: Whiteness”

WHEN:         Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE:         Campbell Hall, Room 153

In conjunction with the exhibit “Whiteness, A Wayward Construction,” the University of Virginia Art Museum will hold a symposium on Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Campbell Hall, Room 153.

The symposium “An American Study: Whiteness” extends the scope of the exhibit and will include panel discussions by experts in whiteness studies, artists and University and Charlottesville community members who participated in a five-week “privilege” exercise. The focus of the day will be to explore identity politics and the cultural study of whiteness in the United States. 

The first panel of scholars will discuss the development of whiteness studies as an academic discipline with respect to discourses on race, class and gender, and ultimately describe how certain strata of the population began to think of themselves as white.

The artist panel, made up of artists whose work is included in the exhibit, will consider whiteness as subject matter. The third panel will culminate the five-session “privilege” exercise titled “Localizing Privilege.” Leading up to the symposium, the museum, in conjunction with the Curry School of Education’s Multi-Cultural Education Program, sponsored an interactive workshop conducted by Professor Bob Covert and graduate assistant Lisa Speidel. The workshop, attended by members of the University and Charlottesville communities, was based on the philosophy that the best way to arrive at change and social justice is to encourage individual growth through fostering connections and communication. During the five interactive sessions, participants explored the topics: “How to Talk about Race, Class and Gender,” which focused on creating a community of respect as the foundation for discussion about these issues; “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” in which the participants defined prejudice, discrimination, and systemic oppression and explored the concept of privilege and how this contributes to systemic oppression in America; “The Color of Fear,” which centered on the multiple layers and the effects of systemic racism, and addressed the various ways that different groups process and experience racism; “The Next Layer,” which delved deeper into the layers of oppression and its meaning to each individual; and “Cultural Sharing,” a celebration by participants of their cultures through stories, pictures, food and music.

The group will make a presentation about the workshop experience at the symposium.

Symposium participants include Amelia Jones, professor and chairwoman of art history and archaeology at the University of Manchester, England, who has written numerous articles in anthologies and journals and has organized exhibitions, including the 1996 exhibit  “Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art History” at the UCLA/Armand Hammer Art Museum; David Roediger, Kendrick C. Babcock Professor of Historyat the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the author of  “Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past”;  Eric Lott, U.Va. professor of American studies and culture, whose writing includes the book “Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class,” and the articles "After Identity, Politics: The Return of Universalism," in New Literary History, "White Like Me: Racial Transvestism and the Construction of Whiteness" in Cultural Studies Reader, and "The Whiteness of Film Noir" in American Literary History;  Grace Hale, U.Va. associate professor of history and an expert in  20th century American cultural history and the American South; and artists Joseph Havel, Mark Steven Greenfield, Lezley Saar and Peter Edlund.

The symposium is open to the public free of charge.

For additional information, call (434) 924-3592 or visit the museum Web site:

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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