Noted gender, race expert comes to campus

9/17/2009 - By: Mary Hunton

On Sept. 17 and 18, the University of Nevada, Reno will find itself host to Linda Martín-Alcoff, professor of Philosophy at Hunter College - City University of New York Graduate Center. Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Gender, Race and Identity Program (GRI), and made possible by the generosity of the Leonard Endowment, Martín-Alcoff will be speaking to students and faculty who are interested in the topic of identity.

“She’s giving two talks,” said Deborah Boehm, assistant professor in Anthropology and Women’s Studies. “The first talk is about identity more broadly, and the second talk is about Latinos beyond the binary.”

The first lecture, “Identity in the Public Sphere,” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 17 in the Reynolds school of Journalism, room 101, at 7 p.m. Her second lecture, “Latinos Beyond the Binary,” will be held on Friday, Sept. 18 in the Knowledge center, room 107, at 3 p.m. Boehm believes that the second lecture is of particular relevance to the local community.

“Both of the talks are going to be compelling,” she said. “One more broad topic, and the second topic about Latinos is obviously important to our community because of the population of Latinos we have here in Reno.”

But Martín-Alcoff does more than just give lectures and teach. She has received several awards, written a collection of books and anthologies, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States by Hispanic Business magazine. Aside from that, she makes an effort out in the community, too.

“She’s also an activist scholar, and I think that’s very appealing to a lot of folks here at UNR,” Boehm said. “She is involved in community organizations and bringing about change in local communities through her research.”

Latino philosophy is one of the many areas of study that Martín-Alcoff emphasizes in. According to Deborah Achtenberg, the chair of the Department of Philosophy, Martín-Alcoff believes that “identity is visual,” and ethnicity plays a part in that.

“Martín-Alcoff believes,” Achtenberg said, “that if you want to understand how we are the same, you first need to understand how we are different.”

Achtenberg was essential in bringing Martín-Alcoff to Reno through her close work with GRI and the Leonard Endowment. She hopes that these lectures will be able to help give GRI a jump start.

“This is the kickoff event announcing the new GRI program,” she said.

GRI is a new program at UNR, and this is its first full academic year. However, despite that, they are a very active, offering a selection of undergrad majors and minors in women’s studies; ethnic studies; holocaust, genocide, and peace studies and religious studies. According to Boehm, they are hoping to start a grad certificate and eventually a master’s degree. Martín-Alcoff will be the first speaker that the program has brought to UNR.

“She’s a scholar who’s known nationally and internationally,” said Boehm. “We’re fortunate to have her come here.”


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