The most recent economic crisis marked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 not only ignited unremitting waves of global protest but also renewed interest in capital as a central theme for research across various academic fields and disciplines.1 The crisis and its amplification through social movements have re-centered questions of capital and class within the common public and scholarly discourse.

At the same time, the deeply disturbing increase of anti-black racism and state violence signifies the degree to which class has not simply supplanted race as the central analytic of inequality: #BlackLivesMatter. Similarly, the important interventions of #Sayhername, #AmINext, and #GirlsLikeUs serve as reminders of the ways in which gender, sexuality and sexism necessarily trouble and complicate our understandings of race and class.

Too often comparative studies of race and ethnicity are limited to forms of social and cultural theory, which though productive, can obfuscate the material effects of inequality. The CCSRE theme of “Capital” is, thus, intended to deepen the campus discourse, helping it to move beyond dialogue by connecting the cultural and (inter)personal with the structural, historical and material.

Toward this end, the CCSRE aims to create an intellectual space for exploring the relationships between economic conditions/class and issues of race, ethnicity and Indigeneity. The Center is particularly interested in trans-, inter-, and multi-disciplinary approaches to understanding the history, current manifestations and consequences of contemporary capitalism. While the CCSRE will continue to support a variety of initiatives, we will give preference to co-sponsoring events, collaborations, projects and activities that support the Center’s new theme.

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1Though this resurgence has perhaps been most captured in Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book, “Capital in the 21st Century,” (2014), renewed interested is evident across multiple disciplines. For example, in history see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/education/in-history-departmentsits-up-with-capitalism.html;
in literary studies, https://www.upress.umn.edu/bookdivision/books/capital-fictions, in the arts http://artanddebt.org/hello-world/; and, in the sciences, http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo3771146.html as just some examples.

Possible topics

We encourage interested staff and faculty to orient their syllabi, course activities, guest speakers, events, collaborations, projects, performances, and other campus initiatives around the CCSRE theme.

Resources for CCSRE 2015-2015 Theme-Capital (pdf)

Some possible topics include but are not limited to the comparative study of race and ethnicity through examinations of:

  • Social capital
  • Intellectual capital
  • Political capital
  • Racial capitalism
  • Social class
  • First generation college students
  • Precarity
  • The New Jim Crow
  • Capital and incarceration
    • School to prison pipeline
    • Police and state violence
  • Corporatization of
    • Education
    • Healthcare
    • Research
  • Capitalism and the environment
  • Corporatization of the arts
  • The arts and capital(ism)
  • Protest
  • History of capitalism (i.e. slavery and “primitive accumulation” of Indigenous land)
  • Capitalist themes in literature and popular culture
  • Labor and labor movements
  • Economic theories of capital
  • Unions
  • Philosophy of capitalism
  • Debt
  • History of access to higher education
  • Analyses of capital through music, art and dance
  • Privatization of health and medicine
  • Equity/inequality