A Celebrated Mentor to Diverse Scholar-Activists: Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore (Earth and Environmental Sciences), director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center, has won the 2017 Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award for “dedication to and excellence in mentoring” from the American Studies Association’s Minority Scholars’ Committee.

Gilmore stood out among the 10 “stellar” nominations for “the intellect, passion, and conviction” she brings to “training diverse scholar-activists and preparing them to make a difference in the classroom, on the page, and in their communities,” according to Randy Ontiveros, associate professor at the University of Maryland and chair of the ASA’s Minority Scholars’ Committee.

In a joint nomination letter, Gilmore’s current and former students wrote, “She has taught us how to think; how to teach; how to lead; how to mentor; and how to forge, fortify, and sharpen the tools in our struggles for liberation inside and outside the academy.”

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“Having the opportunity to work with Dr. Gilmore transformed my life,” said Ujju Aggarwal (Ph.D. ’13, Anthropology), a recently appointed assistant professor of anthropology at The New School and one of Gilmore’s nominators.

Aggarwal noted that her former professor and advisor “served as a particularly powerful role in her mentorship of students of color” and fosters a sense of community that is indicative of her mentoring, politics, and pedagogy. “It is not uncommon for Dr. Gilmore’s students to have a strong sense of investment in one another’s growth and success. It is rare to encounter such a community inside or outside of the academy.”

Gilmore’s other nominators included:

Christina Heatherton, assistant professor of American Studies at Barnard College and former postdoctoral fellow at the GC’s Center for Place, Culture, and Politics;

Laurel Mei-Singh (Ph.D. ’16, Earth and Environmental Sciences), a postdoctoral research associate in American Studies at Princeton University; and

Mae Miller (Ph.D. student, Earth and Environmental Sciences), recipient of a 2017 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.

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Gilmore is the author of the prize-winning Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007). She writes extensively on racial capitalism, organized violence, organized abandonment, changing state structure, revolutionary and other oppositional formations, the African diaspora, infrastructure, and extraction.

A past president of the American Studies Association, she has cofounded many grassroots organizations, including the California Prison Moratorium Project, Critical Resistance, and the Central California Environmental Justice Network.

She has won a number of awards, such as the Angela Y. Davis Award for Public Scholarship (American Studies Association), the Harold Rose Award for Anti-Racist Scholarship (Association of American Geographers), and the inaugural Eugene Grant Distinguished Scholar in Social Justice Prize from Purchase College of the State University of New York.

Gilmore will be presented with Yarborough Prize at the Minority Scholars’ Committee’s Mentoring Breakfast in Chicago on November 11, 2017.

Submitted on: JUN 28, 2017

Category: Center for Place, Culture and Politics | Diversity | Earth and Environmental Sciences | Faculty Awards | Student News