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Sonali Thakkar will discuss The Reeducation of Race: Jewishness and the Politics of Antiracism in Postcolonial Thought. She will be joined in conversation by Adom Getachew and Na'ama Rokem. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion. RSVPs are requested but not required.

About the Book: World War II produced a fundamental shift in modern racial discourse. In the postwar period, race’s status as conceptual common sense and a justification for colonial rule was challenged with new intensity. In response to this crisis of race, the UN and UNESCO initiated a project of racial reeducation. This global antiracist campaign was framed by the persecution of Europe’s Jews and anchored by UNESCO’s epochal 1950 Statement on Race, which canonized the midcentury liberal antiracist consensus that continues to shape our present. The Reeducation of Race tells the story of how UNESCO’s race project directly influenced anticolonial thought and made Jewish difference and the Holocaust enduring preoccupations for anticolonial and postcolonial writers. Drawing on UNESCO’s rich archival resources, the book recovers these connections and offers new readings of a varied collection of texts from the postcolonial, Jewish, and Black diasporic traditions.

About the Speaker(s)

Sonali Thakkar is Assistant Professor of English at New York University. She works at the intersection of postcolonial studies, critical human rights, race and ethnic studies, and Jewish and Holocaust studies. Broadly, she is interested in postwar projects of human rights and repair. The Reeducation of Race: Jewishness and the Politics of Antiracism in Postcolonial Thought (Stanford 2023) is her first book. Other writing has appeared in venues such as Social Text, WSQ, The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, Critical Memory Studies: New Approaches, and The Cambridge History of World Literature. Prior to joining NYU, she was Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago.  

About the Discussant(s)

Adom Getachew is Professor of Political Science and Race, Diaspora & Indigeneity at the University of Chicago. She is a political theorist with research interests in the history of political thought, theories of race and empire, and postcolonial political theory. Her work focuses on the intellectual and political histories of Africa and the Caribbean. She is the author of Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (2019) and co-editor, with Jennifer Pitts, of W. E. B. Du Bois: International Thought (2022). She is currently working on a second book on the intellectual origins and political practices of Garveyism, the black nationalist/pan-African movement, which had its height in the 1920s. Her public writing has appeared in Dissent, Foreign Affairs, the London Review of Books, the Nation, the New York Review of Books, and the New York Times.

Na'ama Rokem is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. She is a scholar of Modern Hebrew and German-Jewish literature who is particularly interested in translation, self-translation, and language mixing. Her current book project – titled Dispatches in Translation: A Network of German-Hebrew Letters – maps a network of correspondences that cross between the two languages in different ways. With chapters on Franz Kafka, Else Lasker-Schüler, Ludwig Strauss, Leah Goldberg, Hannah Arendt, Paul Celan, Yehuda Amichai, Tuvia Rübner, and Dan Pagis, the book offers a new perspective on the central role of multilingualism in the formation of modern Jewish literature, and on the poetics of self-translation. She is one of the co-editors of Volume IV of the Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Hannah Arendt (Essays and Short Writings).