Blog 1: Globalizing Affirmative Action Workshop Kicks Off


AAPF Launches International Workshop in Bellagio , Italy: "Globalizing Affirmative Action"


Effort to develop a global perspective on social inclusion features 24 social justice advocates from five countries, August 1-10 at Rockefeller Sfondrata Center .

Daily blog to provide unique opportunity for others to shape convening.

August 1, 2007 

    Twenty-four scholars and activists representing five countries converged on Bellagio , Italy yesterday, kicking off  “Globalizing Affirmative Action,” a ten-day international workshop on social inclusion discourses and policy. Convened by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), a social justice think tank based in New York , participants will collaborate to strengthen the contemporary understanding, framing and advancement of social inclusion policies around the globe, particularly their home countries – which include Brazil , France , India , South Africa , and the United States .

    An ally network of the broadest scope is vital for the survival of social inclusion efforts worldwide, according to AAPF Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw. “Positive action, affirmative action, and other policies are currently under attack everywhere they are in play, often weakened beyond recognition by stereotype and misinformation,” Dr. Crenshaw said. “And while there is real knowledge about such programs that can be productively deployed to inform these debates, it seldom reaches beyond disciplinary, institutional or national boundaries. ‘Globalizing Affirmative Action’ seeks to establish the interdisciplinary and international linkages that are lacking among scholars and advocates who are working to advance social inclusion policies around the globe.”

    The workshop is designed to advance knowledge sharing, capacity building, and project development among such scholars and advocates. The deliverables include an edited collection of interdisciplinary and international work reflecting the current discourses on affirmative action around the world; the establishment of an ongoing working group to pursue and support interdisciplinary and international research on social inclusion policies; and the development of methodologies to facilitate more effective interfacing between researchers and social justice advocates across disciplines, institutions, and nations.  

    In the spirit of such a mission, the workshop’s participants bring diversity of experience. For example, Shareen Mills of South     Africa promotes gender equality within the realm of public policy through submissions to her country’s government on legislation; meanwhile, Martin Macwan of India has become a national organizer of the Dalit (Untouchable) community’s fight against the legacy of caste in his country; and Brazil’s Angela Paiva tackles covert racism in Brazil through the lens of sociology, her field of study.   

    On the workshop’s opening day, the participants greeted each other, many for the first time, relating on a personal level – in preparation for intellectual power lifting later in the week. At the dinner following a welcoming cocktail party, Crenshaw elicited cheerful laughter when she asked each participant to introduce her/himself, including her/his personal theme song. AAPF Project Director Luke Harris declared his anthem as Aretha Franklin’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T., while others’ included Billi Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin Bout A Revolution.”

    The African American Policy Forum’s “Globalizing Affirmative Action” workshop was made possible through a prestigious award granted by the Rockefeller Foundation and takes place at the world-renowned Rockefeller Sfondrata Center , which hosts scholarly retreats and residences, along the placid Lake Como of Bellagio.

    Although it is geographically remote, the developments of “Globalizing Affirmative Action” will be accessible worldwide – via this very blog, which AAPF will update daily with reports, analysis, and photos. Main topics will include themes and insights of the day’s events; additionally available will be video and audio recording of the proceedings, as well as exclusive interviews of workshop participants.   





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