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Dynamic professor named head of Connecticut College's Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity

, associate professor of history, has been named the director of Connecticut College's Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, one of six interdisciplinary academic centers at the college.

Canton, who specializes in African-American urban history, civil rights and northern race relations, has been a professor at Connecticut College since 2003. He holds a Ph.D. from Temple University and his work has been published in a number of scholarly journals, including the Journal of Urban History, The Western Journal of Black Studies, Reviews in American History and Pennsylvania History. His book, "Raymond Pace Alexander: A New Negro Lawyer Fights for Civil Rights in Philadelphia," which will be published this year, explores racism, segregation and the civil rights struggle as American phenomena.

"Professor Canton brings a wealth of insight and enthusiasm to the study of race and ethnicity," Roger Brooks, dean of the faculty, said. "His expertise, particularly in the area of African-American studies, and his ability to help others think differently about some of the most important issues of our time, make him uniquely qualified to lead this important academic center."

The CCSRE is the college's intellectual home and think tank for the critical examination of issues of diversity and pluralism, with a particular focus on comparative approaches to exploring questions of race and ethnicity. Through faculty and student colloquia and forums, guest lectures and events, the CCSRE integrates scholarship on race and ethnicity across the disciplines.

"As a historian, I provide my students with a comparative historical approach to race and ethnicity, and this is an opportunity for me to share my ideas and concepts in the classroom with the entire campus," Canton said. "As director of the CCSRE, my goal is to ensure that the entire campus community is engaged with conversations about race and ethnicity."

Canton is well-known for his ability to lead constructive discussions about the often emotional topic of race. In the spring of 2008, he led a day-long workshop for students from two local high schools after a racially-charged incident at a girl's basketball game. Canton had the students participate in activities designed to dispel misconceptions, such as creating a mural of perceptions and playing games in which students had to memorize facts about each other. The result, according to a local newspaper, was that students "realized they weren't so different from one another."

Canton also studies hip-hop and uses popular culture to examine race relations in a variety of contexts. He teaches a popular course titled, "The History of Hip-Hop Music and Culture in Post-Industrial America, 1973-Present."

August 26, 2009