Managing Racial Capital

Call for Applications

International Workshop Symposium at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, June 30 – July 1, 2017

Deadline: May 22, 2017

Since the rise of managerial culture in the nineteenth century, the term management has been used primarily to describe a structure and practice of business organization that oversees and regulates the relation between labor and capital. Yet the concept of management has also gained immense traction outside the realm of business and labor relations. The internalization of a capitalist ethos of productivity has led to a widespread proliferation of the language of management to all aspects of our everyday lives, specifically in the form of self-management and self-optimization. We manage our relationships, emotions, bodies, time, energy, and financial resources, all towards the goal of living more efficient lives. All of these are currently topics of interest in our field. What needs to be more fully investigated, however, is the role that race plays and has played in the history and development of management as both concept and practice.

Following Cedric Robinson’s concept of racial capitalism, the international workshop symposium “Managing Racial Capital,” departs from the assumption that racism is not simply a by-product of the capitalist logic of accumulation and unequal distribution, but that racialist ideologies lie at the very foundation of capitalism itself. We contend that the same holds true for management as well. Thinking of management broadly as modes of organization that are geared towards efficiency and control and which rely on (scientifically determined) systems of classification and standardization, the symposium investigates the ways in which racialized populations are managed under racial capitalism through processes such as labor organization (including slavery and other forms of unfree or coerced labor), labor importation, immigration control, trade agreements, treaties, criminalization and incarceration, emancipation and access to civic society, spatial organization such as urban planning and infrastructure, public health regulations, property and land rights, etc.

The symposium aims to bring together established and emerging scholars whose work touches on the intersections of race and management. The first day, June 30, will feature a full program with invited speakers. On the second day, July 1, there will be two graduate workshops led by Colleen Lye (UC Berkeley) and Nirmala Erevelles (University of Alabama) respectively.  At the workshops, PhD and advanced MA students will have the opportunity to briefly present their projects (5-10 minute presentations) and to more fully engage with the speakers and their work.  Whereas the talks will be open to all, spots in the workshops are limited.  If you want to participate, please send a brief description of your PhD dissertation or MA thesis project (ca. 300 words) along with a CV to managingracialcapital@gmail.com by May 22, 2017.

Projects could be on, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Racial capitalism
  • Management and slavery
  • Settler colonialism
  • Imperial acquisition and property rights
  • Reservation management and Native land rights
  • Indigenous law and tribal governance
  • Statistics and Race
  • Segregation
  • Race and (legal) personhood
  • Eugenics and birth control
  • Housing policies and disease control
  • Health and food regulations
  • Insurance claims and risk management
  • Administrative practices and bureaucratic organization
  • Disability and access
  • Multicultural management
  • Religious freedom and restriction in the workplace
  • Self-management, self-optimization, and empowerment
  • Affirmative action
  • Race and Critical University Studies

Students of color are especially encouraged to apply.