Entering its second full year of programming, the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration is growing the size and scope of its initiatives.
Yale announced the establishment of the center in February 2016, after years of discussions and planning. RITM, which moved into a new office at 35 Broadway last semester, provides fellowships and prizes, and conducts conferences on subjects related to race, indigenous studies and migration. It also hosts the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Program and collaborates with the broader New Haven community.
This year, the center will add new faculty affiliates and postdoctoral fellows, do more work in New Haven and host a new postdoctoral fellowship on the racialization of Islam, faculty members involved in the program say.
“We are trying to work to help achieve [University President Peter Salovey’s] vision of a more integrated Yale,” said Stephen Pitti, the center’s inaugural director and the head of Ezra Stiles College. “We want to make sure that Yale is a leading place in the world to do work on these areas of great importance.”
Some of the projects the center plans to execute this year have to do with strengthening its relationship with the New Haven community. Together with Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, RITM will bring faculty members to high schools in New Haven to talk about topics related to race, indigeneity and transnational migration. The lectures will be broadly advertised to public school students, Pitti said.
The center will also work with the city’s Long Wharf Theatre, which will have programming this year “related topically to the themes [managed] in the center,” Pitti said. RITM will organize roundtable events about the productions, hosted by the New Haven Free Public Library.
Erin Johnson, the center’s associate director, said RITM also will continue to host conferences like “Racism, Antisemitism and the Radical Right,” which took place this September and was co-sponsored by the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism. The center will kick off its Asian American Studies speaker series next week, she added.
Johnson said most undergraduates engage with the center through the ER&M program and that the class of 2018 will be the largest senior class in the history of the ER&M major. Graduate and professional students can form dissertation writing groups in the center and become part of faculty-led working groups, focused on studying topics ranging from Asian American studies to ethnography and oral history.
Early-career, nontenure track faculty at Yale have also been recruited as fellows at the center, where they discuss their work with each other, provide career advice and work with Pitti to further the centers initiatives, according to the RITM website.
“In many ways, we focus on convening communities by inviting members of all schools, departments and programs throughout campus to engage in dialogue around topics of race, indigeneity and transnational migration,” Johnson said.
Pitti said some postdoctoral fellows also teach classes at Yale. One such fellow is Nancy Khalil. Last March, RITM announced it would create a one-year postdoctoral fellowship on the racialization of Islam, and Khalil was named the position’s inaugural recipient.
This fall, Khalil is teaching “Muslim Diasporas in America and the Racialization of Islam,” a course for undergraduates.
“When I first learned about the center, I thought, kudos to Yale for recognizing that topics like race, migration, transnational studies and indigenous studies, which are often forgotten, are almost impossible to study and understand in isolation,” she said. “Creating a space like RITM fills a critical need in bridging the gap between our academic studies and what is happening on the ground as people encounter these categories in their lived experiences.”
Khalil added that the students in her class brought unique stories to the table and that she enjoyed working with them and with Yale’s faculty members.
Joanna Radin, a history of medicine professor and one of last year’s faculty fellows, said she was “impressed” with the center’s commitment to Yale’s junior instructors.
“For me, the fellowship was transformative and I hope it will continue,” she said. “The opportunity to have sustained engagement with colleagues working on questions of race, indigeneity and transnational migration has allowed me to better serve students of medicine and public health.”
Anne Eller, a history professor and another of last year’s faculty fellows, said that RITM encouraged interdisciplinary inquiry in “exciting and critical ways.” She noted that fellows have deepened interdisciplinary discussions, created new courses and advanced their research with RITM’s support.
Eller also praised the center’s new office as “the product of the vision and hard work” of scholars, students and other collaborators across campus.
“This new physical home reflects their energy, organizing, and commitment, and represents a platform and an opportunity for really meaningful exchanges in future years,” she said.
Moving forward, Pitti said, the center hopes to continue its outreach work to more members of the Yale and New Haven communities. He added that RITM would also like to “refine how [it works] closely and effectively” with faculty members and students interested in the areas covered by the center and actively recruit more of those scholars.
“There is a lot to do, but the work is important to many people on campus and, of course, critical to much of what’s going on in the world off campus, so we are very excited to do it,” he said.
The Ethnicity, Race and Migration major was established in 1997.
Anastasiia Posnova | email@example.com