Consortium on race, sexuality launches

by Caitlin McCarthy | 11/7/19 2:05am

The Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration, and Sexuality made its debut this term with a launch reception in October in Sanborn Library and two events. Directed by women’s, gender, and sexuality studies professor Eng-Beng Lim, the consortium works to create new interdisciplinary relationships on campus. 

Lim wrote in an email statement that the consortium serves as a place for interdisciplinary study.

“It is important to me that Dartmouth supports a vibrant intellectual and creative environment where scholars and students of color as well as queer scholars and students not only thrive, but are leading national conversations [on these topics],” Lim wrote.

“Instead of it being ... demand from students and from faculty over many years, the reason it now is an actual thing, has everything to do with Professor Lim putting together the kind of proposals, doing the intense groundwork to look at similar programs at other campuses,” said history professor Bethany Moreton, a founding member of the consortium.

She also credited the work of Dennis Washburn, associate dean of the faculty for interdisciplinary programs, as integral to the creation of the consortium. 

“You have to have administrative buy-in for something to become official, and he’s been a real supporter,” Moreton said.

Moreton added that Lim worked to support Asian-American studies at Dartmouth before the idea for the consortium started to develop about two and a half years ago. 

Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies professor Matthew Garcia, another founding member, said that the program formed out of a desire to recreate the success of interdisciplinary fields at other universities. 

“[The] hope is that we will from this consortium generate not just ideas, but also research that can be supported by external grants,” Garcia said, adding that more outside support will help the consortium rise in prominence and match the accomplishments of similar organizations.

The consortium itself is made up of founding tenure-track and tenured faculty members, as well as faculty associates, according to Moreton. She added that the consortium also includes post-doctoral students who work at the College.

Undergraduate students are able to participate in the program as either an RMS Fellow or an undergraduate scholar. Fellows receive unique opportunities to engage with the speakers that the consortium brings to campus, while scholars are encouraged to research topics in the field, according to the consortium’s website. 

“One thing that I really appreciate about our cohort is that they are really willing to engage in dialogue,” said the consortium’s post-graduate fellow, Teresa J. Alvarado-Patlan ’19. She emphasized the current trial nature of the program and said she is excited for the further development of the program in the following terms.

 Postdoctoral fellow Howie Tam, the consortium’s assistant director, said that the consortium’s work aligned with his interdisciplinary research interests in the literature of Vietnamese refugee writers in the U.S. and France. He added that the consortium, as a new initiative, is attempting to “[tap] into the people we already know” to host events. As the consortium gains more prominence, Tam hopes to approach speakers that do not already have relationships with the members of the consortium.

Past events this term have included a performance by and discussion with the drag performer Sultana as well as a workshop event titled “How Have Borders Shaped ‘America’?” The event also included a discussion panel in which LALACS professor Jorge Cuéllar joined Brown University professor Monica Muñoz Martinez and University of California, Irvine Professor Vicki Ruiz. Garcia moderated the discussion, which he said focused on the “history of the border and how the border currently is shaping American thought and American policy.”

 Tiffany Chang ’23, who is a fall RMS Fellow, said she appreciates the opportunities that the consortium opened to her. She said she enjoyed hearing the different perspectives at the “Borders” panel and getting to interview Sultana after the performance.

 “I got to … really appreciate the generations of work it’s taken for Dartmouth to be able to get this far,” Chang said, describing the consortium’s launch party event.

 One goal that the consortium is working on is creating a race, migration and sexuality minor or modified major. Other initiatives, according to the consortium’s website, include a podcast project as well as research pairings across faculty and student researchers.

 Lim credited Dartmouth’s desire for diversity as one of the main reasons why the program has garnered so much interest on campus thus far.

 “There has been and continues to be so much interest on campus to see that we include diversity not only as a demographic or institutional ethic but also in intellectual and curricular terms, including our excellent research and range offerings in the humanities, social and hard sciences and the arts,” he wrote.