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Harvard professor visits MSU next week

March 2, 2012

By NATHAN GREGORY

Next week, the Mississippi State University African American Studies Program will host one of the most renowned scholars in the field as part of its scholar-in-residence week.
Lawrence D. Bobo, W.E.B. Du Bois professor of social sciences at Harvard University, will be a guest member of the program’s faculty Monday through Thursday.
Along with corresponding with students and faculty during his week at MSU, Bobo will also speak at three campus events which will be open to the public.
He will hold a book signing at Rogers Auditorium in McCool Hall Monday at 5 p.m. to be followed by a lecture called “Post-Racial Dreams, American Realities.” He will speak and respond to questions on his book, “Prejudice in Politics: Group Position, Public Opinion and the Wisconsin Treaty Rights Dispute” Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the John Grisham room at Mitchell Memorial Library.
Bobo will moderate a panel discussion Thursday with MSU AASP faculty called “Racial Attitudes, Identities, Structures and Progress.” The discussion will take place at Fowlkes Auditorium in the Colvard Student Union from 1:30 to 3:30.
MSU African American Studies Program Director Stephen Middleton said Bobo will also correspond with AASP faculty and students during his week on campus.
“Each year, African American Studies sponsors a scholar-in-residence week where we bring to campus a prominent scholar who has a national and international reputation in his or her field of expertise. (Bobo), in this case, becomes a member of the African American Studies Program for one week. He holds office hours and is available to our students as well as our faculty for consultation about their research projects as well as engaging them in conversations about his current projects,” Middleton said. “He will teach for us in African American Studies as well as meet the other members of the university committee during his residency. We’re excited about the programs we have planned for him.”
Middleton said the timing of Bobo’s residency is ideal given that the program just held its second annual Diversity Conference earlier this week.
“This scholar-in-residence week follows our Diversity Conference on campus, so we’ll have an opportunity to continue these conversations about race which were started at the conference,” he said. “It will give us a way to contextualize from a scholarly perspective how our country and our state got into the racial mess (we are in) and what we are doing about it.”
MSU assistant professor of sociology Matthew Hughey said he looks forward to hearing from Bobo about the research he conducted for his latest book and other publications.
“In broad strokes, he examines how different racial groups and their position to one another based on the resources they have, the stereotypes about one another and the public opinions on those different racial groups went into rationalizing the passage and dispute of the (Wisconsin) treaty,” Hughey said.
He said he is pleased to have such an esteemed colleague in the field visiting next week.
“The big thing I think he’ll bring is talking about his major theory he advances through his work in laissez-faire racism in which he shows that despite public opinions becoming more progressive and supportive of racial equality, we still seem to disprove of any policies or laws that bring into effect that same racial equality,” he said. “His large body of work over his life is concerned with that disconnect between our attitudes and our practices.”

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