Genealogies: A RaceB4Race Symposium

When and Where

Thursday, September 22, 2022 9:00 am to Saturday, September 24, 2022 5:00 pm


Genealogies: A RaceB4Race Symposium explores the multi-layered and interwoven strands of premodern racial formation.

What are the genealogies of racial formation? How do our histories of race-making, of imperialism and enslavement, live on in our present moment? What does it mean to excavate the historical, cultural, and political genealogies of race, and what does such a methodology look like? This symposium explores the multi-layered and interwoven strands of premodern racial formation. Even as it unfolds the critical genealogies that scaffold our understanding of race today, it places pressure on the intellectual and disciplinary conventions that will continue to inform our future.

Invited speakers

  • Afua Cooper (Dalhousie University)
  • Wallace Cleaves (University of California - Riverside)
  • Kyle Grady (University of California - Irvine)
  • Miles Grier (CUNY: Queen's College)
  • Nicole Lopez-Jantzen (CUNY: Borough of Manhattan Community College and Graduate Center)
  • Mira 'Assaf Kafantaris (Butler University)
  • Hassana Moosa (King's College London)
  • Nicole Spigner (Northwestern University)
  • Tamara Walker (Barnard College)
  • Jack Weigand (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

A full program will be made available soon.

Keynote from Afua Cooper

September 22, 2022

Multidisciplinary scholar, author, and artist, Dr. Afua Cooper is a fellow at the Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University. She is a pioneering scholar and researcher in Black Canadian history, and the leading expert in Canadian slavery studies. Dr. Cooper also chaired the scholarly panel that investigated Dalhousie University’s connection to slavery and anti-Blackness. She also lead the research efforts, and was the principal author of the subsequent report Lord Dalhousie’s History on Slavery and Race. These initiatives revealed the connections between the university and the Atlantic slaving systems.

Afua is the PI for A Black People’s History of Canada project housed at Dalhousie University where she teaches and holds a Killam Research Chair. Additionally, she is a member of the International Scientific Committee for the Routes of Enslaved peoples, UNESCO. Dr. Cooper was honored by Maclean’s magazine as one of the 50 most influential Canadians.

A celebrated poet, in 2020 Dr. Cooper was Awarded the Portia White Prize, Nova Scotia’s highest recognition for the arts. She is also the winner of the J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award for her poetry book Black Matters.


Thursday, September 22

  • Keynote speaker - Afua Cooper
  • Reception to follow - St Michael's College

Friday, September 23

  • Friday's events begin at 9:00 am EDT

Saturday, September 24

  • Saturday's events begin at 9:00 am EDT


  • Urvashi Chakravarty (University of Toronto)
  • Liza Blake (University of Toronto)


This symposium draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The organizers are also grateful to the many supporting institutions at the University of Toronto:

  • Jackman Humanities Institute (Programme for the Arts Grant)
  • St. Michael’s College
  • Office of the Vice-President, International
  • New College
  • Department of English, University of Toronto Scarborough
  • Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Department of English, University of Toronto St. George
  • Graduate Department of English, University of Toronto
  • Department of Classics, University of Toronto St. George
  • Outreach, Conference, and Colloquia Fund, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • University of Toronto Mississauga Working Group Fund
  • University of Toronto Scarborough Working Group Fund
  • Office of the Vice-Principal, Research, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Faculty of Information
  • Canada Research Chair, Milton Seminar
  • Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies Institute
  • University College
  • Critical Digital Humanities Initiative
  • Centre for Comparative Literature
  • Collaborative Programme in Book History and Print Culture
  • McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
  • Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies

The Folger Institute’s Scholarly Programs will fund a limited number of travel and lodging grants-in-aid to support Folger consortium graduate students attending this RaceB4Race symposium at the University of Toronto.

Livestream information

Livestreaming will be available during the symposium.

Please register with the 'Register - Online Only' ticket option to receive information about connecting to the livestream.

COVID-19 safety protocols

Learn about University of Toronto's COVID-19 policies.

The symposium will take place in a room with large windows that will be kept open for maximum cross-ventilation (weather and sound permitting). Conference attendees are asked to mask indoors; please plan (and pack!) accordingly.

The reception will be held in an indoor/outdoor space.

Venue and parking

The symposium will be held in Seeley Hall in Trinity College, University of Toronto.

6 Hoskin Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1H8, Canada

Please find a campus map and transit information here.

More information and travel details

Please find more information and helpful suggestions regarding travel to Toronto on the ACMRS website.