Scholar to discuss Identity Politics in the Age of Obama at URI’s lecture on multiculturalism, Feb. 23

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KINGSTON, R.I. – February 5, 2010 — Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, the Peter Strauss Family assistant professor of political science and African American studies at Yale University, will deliver the University of Rhode Island’s 15th Annual Lecture on Multiculturalism. Her talk, “Identity Politics in the Age of Obama,” will be presented on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 P.M. in the Memorial Union Ballroom, 50 Lower College Road, on URI’s Kingston Campus. The lecture will also conclude URI’s Annual Women of Color Conference. Free and open to the public, the event will be livecast on the Multicultural Center’s website

Brown-Dean’s research examines the intense competition over resources between different identity groups in the United States. The competition leads to complex structural inequalities in the legal and criminal justice systems, education, and in electoral voting that restrict the access of identity groups to full democratic participation on the basis of race, gender, and socioeconomic class. Intertwined with the structural constraints are perceptual barriers, such as limited political visibility, diminished civic engagement, and low citizen participation, that stigmatize the most vulnerable members of society – the poor, children and youth, the unemployed, and those coping with addiction. Strategies that increase the rates of civic engagement, and voter registration and turnout provide options and opportunities that bring full democracy within the nation’s grasp.

Her book manuscript, Once Convicted, Forever Doomed: Race, Crime, and Political Inequality, explores the political impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color. Her Ph.D. dissertation, One Lens, Multiple Views: Disenfranchisement and Political Equality, received a best dissertation award from the American Political Science Association. Her most recent research has focused on the legacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Her popular course on Black and Jewish Community Politics helped the Political Science Department at Yale to receive a grant from the Ford Foundation’s Difficult Dialogues Initiative to research attitude change among students on flashpoint issues around race, religion, and politics. During 2009, the Open Society Institute awarded her a prestigious Soros Justice Fellowship toward the goal of piloting projects that build open, democratic societies in the United States and around the world.

A native of Lynchburg, Va., Brown-Dean has been a frequent commentator on issues of race and democracy, featured on NPR, PBS, and CNN. She earned a BA degree from the University of Virginia in 1998, and a Ph. D. from Ohio State University in 2003.

URI’s Annual Lectures on Multiculturalism seek to increase awareness of interdependence among groups within the human family by creating new patterns of sense-making on issues of culture, power, knowledge, and identity. For more information about the annual lectures visit .

This year’s lecture is sponsored by the Multicultural Center, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Student Life, the Center for Student Leadership Development, the Dr. Rose Butler Browne Mentorship Program for Women of Color, and the Multicultural Unity and Student Involvement Council (MUSIC).

For More Information, Mailee Kue, 874-5829