Races, Empires and Diasporas

Organizers: Lily Wong and Theresa Runstedtler


This group focuses on historical and contemporary questions of racial formation, imperialism, and migration in a global context.

It provides a dynamic forum for AU faculty and students to discuss two intersecting and overlapping fields of inquiry:

1) Imperial and colonial histories, policies and practices; and

2) The global migration of people of color and their related political, cultural, and social movements


Spring 2016 

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 3:00-7:00pm, Battle Atrium 

  • #BlackLivesMatter

This event will feature panels, discussions, and talks about the Black Lives Matter moment.

4 -5 pm: Conversation with AU student activists involved with Black Lives Matter and AU Alumna Marita Golden
5-6pm: Talk – Erika Totten (BLM Activist in DC): “We are accountable when we are specific”
6-7pm: Talk – Marcia Chatelain (Associate Professor, History, Georgetown University – #fergusonsyllabus):
“What #BlackLivesMatter Teaches Us: Woke Pedagogies, Social Media, and the Academy”

To learn more about this event please visit the Humanities Lab’s #BlackLivesMatter Community Events Page


  • Monday, March 28, 2016, 1pm, Krieger 100 

  • Lily Wong, Department of Literature, “Sex Work, Media Networks, and Transpacific Histories of Affect” 

Often portrayed as a “desired other,” the figure of the Chinese sex worker has become a trope for both Asian American sexuality and Asian modernity. This talk will historicize the ways popular representations of the “Chinese Prostitute” have serves as both a discursive surface and affective infrastructure that mobilize imaginations of community through transpacific media networks. We will discuss how the liminal figure rallies forms of collective engagement that not only decenter ethane-nationlaist discourse but gestures towards its unmaking.

Lily Wong

  • Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 11am, Media Innovation Lab McKinley

  • Leena Jayaswal, School of Communications, “MOTHERLAND: Dissecting Identity and Diaspora”

Prof. Jayaswal’s strong relationship with making media began with her migration to the United States. As she grew up in the United States, she used the camera to observe both Indian and American cultures. This very act of photographing allowed her to participate and hide at the same time. Identify and the Diaspora have been reoccurring themes throughout Jayaswal’s photography, installations and filmmaking. Vacillating between old land, new land, past and present, her presentation will navigate through issues of belonging.

Leena Jayaswal

  • Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 5.00 pm,  Battle 228

  • Race in the Neoliberal University 

Theresa Runstedtler and Lily Wong will host a discussion about race in the neoliberal university, using selected chapters from Jodi Melamed’s Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism as our starting point.

Jodi Melamed

Fall 2015 Meetings

  • Wednesday, Nov. 18, 3-5pm, Battelle 228

Questions of pedagogy came up during our last meeting. In light of recent events surrounding the student-run, antiracist social media campaign #TheRealAU, we thought it fitting to discuss issues of “diversity” in our classrooms and on campus. For more on the campaign, see www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/10/21/students-take-racist-comments-and-spread-them-all-over-campus/

To jumpstart our conversation, we will be discussing Ellen Berrey’s recent article for the Atlantic, “Diversity is for white people: The big lie behind a well-intended word.”


  • Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 5.30 pm,  Battelle 228

Our Introductory meeting will focus on defining the scope of this group and the interests of the participants.



228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall

Interested in Joining?

Email Theresa Runstedlter runstedt@american.edu or Lily Wong wong@american.edu.