Fenwick Fellow Lecture Explores Commonality, Conflict Between Blacks and Asians

Posted: November 20, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

Hazel McFerson, one of two Fenwick Fellows for 2002-03, presents the results of her research on relations between blacks and Asians in the United States today at 3 p.m. in the Johnson Center, Room 228. McFerson is an associate professor of international studies in the Department of Public and International Affairs and an associate professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

In her talk, “Crossings: Historical and Contemporary Relations Between African Americans, Asians, and Asian Americans,” McFerson reports on the historical and contemporary “crossings” that have characterized relations among two major minority groups in the United States. She speaks from the context of two different perspectives: commonality, about which much of the significant history of relations between these groups has been hidden or distorted; and secondly, a view that conflict and hostility have characterized the interactions between blacks and Asians.

In her study, McFerson examined black and Asian interactions in the United States. during different historical periods, and as a result, advances the notion that relations have been far more nuanced than either view cited above would suggest. Aside from the reality that Asians, Asian Americans, and African Americans are not monolithic groups, there have been significant instances of crossings, cooperation, and commonality, along with conflicting and competing sociopolitical and economic interests during particular historical periods and in certain geographic locales.

McFerson holds a Ph.D. in politics from Brandeis University, and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy. Her main interests and expertise are gender, conflict, and development in nonwestern societies, and comparative government. In addition to more than 25 years in university teaching and administration both in the United States and abroad, McFerson has consulted for several international organizations, and she received a Fulbright teaching and research award at the University of Asia and the Pacific, Manila.

McFerson has also published widely on American overseas territories, social and gender issues, ethnic identities and race relations, African politics, and cultures of conflict. Her most recent books are Mixed Blessing: The Impact of American Colonial Policy on Society and Politics in the Philippines and The Racial Dimension of American Overseas Colonial Policy.

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