BRI Launch in MIT News Office

October 4, 2012

Kathryn O’Neill
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

What is citizenship and how is it affected by race and gender? How have concepts of identity evolved over time? And what role do race and gender play in contemporary border conflicts? These are among the central questions motivating the launch of The Borders Research Initiative in MIT Women's and Gender Studies (WGS), which will hold its kickoff event, "Border Crossing: Citizenship, Race, Gender," on Oct. 12–13 at MIT's Stata Center.

The initiative, which grew out of a regular series of intellectual forums held by WGS and the Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, is a major new research, teaching and community engagement initiative hosted by WGS and open to everyone in the MIT community.

More than passports

"Citizenship is about more than passports," says Associate Professor of History Christopher Capozzola, an organizer of the initiative. "Citizenship is also about culture and lived experience. And — this is key to this conference — it's about participation, belonging. For the purposes of our project, 'borders' represent both the actual physical borders between nations states and the conceptual categories separating one people from another."

This month's interdisciplinary symposium will bring a broad spectrum of MIT faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences together with lawyers, activists and artists to examine border crossing and citizenship as they relate to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and religion.

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