Inequality in America Initiative Workshop Series


Friday, February 1, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


CGIS South 250, 1730 Cambridge St

Inequality in America Initiative Workshop Series:

Governance, Citizenship, and Social Justice


Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government; Professor of African and African American Studies


Sarah Lewis, Assistant Professor of the History of Art and Architecture and of African and African American Studies

A light lunch will be provided.

Do I Really Want to be Integrated into a Burning House? Claiming Citizenship and Proclaiming America’s Virtues
Jennifer Hochschild, Chris Chaky, and Mara Roth

A new survey shows that legal citizenship in the United States is neither necessary nor sufficient for subjective citizenship, defined as agreement that “I am a full and equal citizen.” This paper examines that discrepancy. We theorize that the claim to American citizenship involves three aspirational assertions: citizens have the right to equal status and political standing, the US grants its citizens equal status, and the US grants its citizens political standing. Identity as a citizen varies in accord with location in hierarchies such as race or ethnicity, class, and gender, as well as by beliefs about whether the US fulfills promises of political standing and social equality. Subjective citizenship predicts political participation, and vote choice. In short, residents of the US do not want to be integrated into a burning house, but they do claim full and equal citizenship, and vote accordingly, if they believe the political house to be worthy of allegiance.

The Visual Geography of Segregation: Woodrow Wilson and Composite Sight
Sarah Lewis

This paper, a chapter of my forthcoming manuscript on Harvard University Press, How Race Changed Sight in America (February 2020), focuses on the shift in vision brought on by federal segregation in the twentieth century. In the face of a president, Woodrow Wilson, who did not speak plainly in public about his administration’s support for segregation, precision and figurative scrutiny became de facto rules of federal policy, a form of sight required to visualize racial life in the federal government. The primary structure of segregationist policy was detail. It is this granular focus that has made it so difficult to combat and to study. This focus on the visual geography of segregation is not to avoid the very real aim of the policy—segregation served as an economic and social blockade to opportunity. This attention to the use of detail in process of segregation, as aesthetic and cartographic as it was bureaucratic, is a way to historicize and recover the visual, almost formalist way that this transformation took place. Segregation was threaded into the federal government; there was a piercing violence in the fine details of this era. It also was born of a conceptual merger between the arts and the sciences during the turn of the twentieth century, into what Wilson would call the “constructive imagination”—an idea that defined his sense of the marriage of modernity, race, and sight in America.

Future events