Anthropologist Brackette F. Williams, a 1973 Cornell University alumna and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award, is slated to give the College of Human Ecology's annual Flemmie Kittrell Lecture Monday, March 29, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Martha Van Rensselaer Hall Amphitheatre (MVR Hall 265) on the Cornell campus. It is free and open to the public.
Williams, whose work focuses on issues of cultural production and social relationships, will speak on "Moralities of Timing, Space and Place in U.S. Ethnic Relations." The Flemmie Kittrell Lecture is in honor of the first African American in the United States to receive a Ph.D. in home economics, which was bestowed by Cornell in 1936. The lecture is dedicated to addressing emerging issues of a multicultural society.
Williams combines ethnographic research on multiracial communities with a sophisticated understanding of social conflict theory. Her work includes in-depth study of ritual and symbolism in the construction of national identity in Guyana and the ways race and class function in the national consciousness of the United States.
Most recently, she has begun conducting an ethnographic study of executions in the United States. She is examining how the various modes of killing offered by the U.S. death penalty influence citizens' ideas about vengeance, retribution and punishment as they struggle to define justice in a moral sense as well as in the context of race, class and gender practices of the formal legal system.
Williams was a 1997 recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. MacArthur fellowships are given to honor creative persons who strive to improve the human condition. She is the author of Stains on My Name, War in My Veins: Guyana and the Politics of Cultural Struggle (1991), editor of Women Out of Place: The Gender of Agency and the Race of Nationality (1996) and past editor of the journal Transforming Anthropology. She received her B.S. in 1973 from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, her M.Ed. in 1974 from the University of Arizona and her Ph.D. in 1983 from Johns Hopkins University.
An open reception will be held in MVR 254 at 4:30 p.m. prior to the lecture.