Tulane University School of Liberal Arts will release a new podcast miniseries, Anti-Racism and the Disciplines, that explores the complex histories of liberal arts majors with the aim of identifying more accurate and effective practices in higher education.
The podcast will feature eminent Black scholars including Hortense Spillers, Dan-el Padilla Peralta and Mary Pattillo, and investigate how disciplines emerged, as well as how contemporary anti-racist research can lead to better educational futures freed from compromised histories.
“The premise here is that racism is built upon structures and institutions. And to disassemble it, we must understand those systems,” said Tulane Liberal Arts Dean Brian Edwards, who hosts the podcast. “I reached out to leading Black scholars who have been at the forefront of rethinking their own fields, and not merely to critique or deconstruct, but to reimagine the kind of anti-racist scholarship and teaching that the next generation might do.”
The podcast series will premiere on Tuesday, March 21, in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The podcast is the outgrowth of the Tulane Dean’s Speaker Series on Anti-Racism and the Disciplines, which Edwards conceived after the summer of 2020 when anti-racist protests shook the United States. Edwards organized lectures and events featuring scholars from leading universities who examined the complicated relationship between many of the liberal arts fields and colonialism, imperialism, and structural racism. These guests shared their discoveries about the history, present and future of their own disciplines, led workshops and provided mentorship to Tulane graduate students and early-career scholars on how to promote anti-racist scholarship in their respective fields.
As they continued with the series, several speakers encouraged Edwards to share the outcomes of this project. One guest suggested an edited volume. Another told Edwards how he wished he could have taught this series at his own institution. From these ideas, the podcast was born. The intended listener includes undergraduate and graduate students alike, alongside educators and, more broadly, members of the general public who are interested in anti-racism.
The disciplines (or “majors”) included in the podcast series are economics, sociology, political science, philosophy, literature, communication studies, classics, and the digital humanities. The intent was to represent a broad scope of the liberal arts, ranging from the traditional to more contemporary areas of study.
The series was entirely produced by members of the School of Liberal Arts, from host Brian Edwards and executive producer Gabriela Garcia Mayes to master’s student Cory Diane, who composed the original music, and with contributions from Digital Media Practices Professor Billy Saas and Dean’s Office student-worker Maggie Green.
As a culmination of the three-year long project, the School of Liberal Arts will host a final symposium on campus on Friday, March 31, with panel discussions by participants. The symposium will feature a keynote by Hortense Spillers, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor at Vanderbilt University, and a major American literary critic and Black feminist scholar, who will speak on Anti-Racism and Literary Studies.
The podcast will be available to listeners at liberalarts.tulane.edu/antiracismandthedisciplinespodcast, or on platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Featured Guests, Anti-Racism and the Disciplines Podcast:
- Classical Studies: Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Associate Professor of Classics, Princeton University
- Communication Studies: Sarah Jackson, Presidential Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Media, Inequality and Change Center, University of Pennsylvania
- Digital Humanities: Kim Gallon, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Brown University
- Economics: Gary Hoover, Professor of Economics and Executive Director of the Murphy Institute, Tulane University
- Literary Studies: Hortense Spillers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor, Emerita, Vanderbilt University
- Philosophy: Lionel McPherson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Tufts University
- Political Science: Alvin Tillery, Jr., Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, Northwestern University
- Sociology: Mary Pattillo, Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of African American Studies, Northwestern University