GC Professors Awarded Mellon Sawyer Seminar Grant

The Graduate Center has been awarded a $175,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures entitled “Cultures and Histories of Freedom: Ideology, Slavery, and Creolization, 1500-1900.” Directed by Professor Herman L. Bennett (History, pictured at left) and Distinguished Professor Robert Reid-Pharr (English, pictured below), the seminar will convene over the 2015-2016 academic year, exploring the relationship between black racial formation and political modernity’s most notable concept: freedom.
 
The Sawyer Seminar will investigate the historical dynamic between freedom, the emergence of black cultural formations, and the constitution of polities throughout the Atlantic world. By focusing on earlier incarnations of freedom and their locale, the seminar will direct attention to neglected histories. It will bring together scholars from CUNY colleges and local institutions alike, such as Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, SUNY-Stony Brook, The New School, and Fordham University, to re-examine the genealogies of liberty with the intent of re-mapping the history of our political modernity.
 
“We congratulate Professors Bennett and Reid-Pharr and are delighted that the Mellon Foundation has chosen to recognize the Graduate Center and its distinguished faculty with this significant award,” said Louise Lennihan, Provost and Senior Vice President (Interim) for Academic Affairs. “Since the 1960s, the Graduate Center has maintained a national prominence as a premier location for students of American and New World slavery. The Sawyer Seminar continues this legacy.” 
 
The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars Program was established in 1994 to provide support for collaborative research on historical and contemporary topics of major scholarly significance, and aims to engage productive scholars in multi-disciplinary and comparative inquiry. The Graduate Center has received three other Mellon Foundation grants to support Sawyer Seminars: "Democratic Citizenship and the Recognition of Cultural Differences" (Professor Carol Gould, Professor Ruth O'Brien, Distinguished Professor Richard Wolin, and Associate Professor Omar Dahbour, 2011); "Universal Human Rights and State Sovereignty: Towards More Effective International and Domestic Compliance" (Distinguished Professor David Nasaw and Presidential Professor Thomas G. Weiss, 2001); and “New Immigrants and American Society" (Distinguished Professor John Mollenkopf, 2000).
 

Submitted on: OCT 3, 2014

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