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Minority Identities
and Global Democracy:
Defending Social, Cultural,
and Ecological Diversity

A retreat organized by
The Future of Minority Studies National Research Project

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
12th – 17th May 2003

ST = Realist Theory of Identity and Social Thought
LA = Identity, Realism, and Literary Analysis
IP = Identity and Pedagogy

Note: All our meetings will be held in the main conference room of Cornell’s Biodiversity Lab, which is close to the Punta Cana Resort and Club (where we will be staying).

MONDAY, 5/12

Most participants will be arriving in Punta Cana today.


2:00-3:00 pm Lecture by Eloy Rodriguez

Topic: The biodiversity of Punta Cana and the surrounding region. Eloy Rodriguez is the Perkins Professor of Plant Biology at Cornell University.

3:00-5:00 pm ST-1

General topic: Methodology

Recap post-positivist realism in the context of the larger project of the Future of Minority Studies; discuss the microfoundations approach to social analysis developed by Dan Little in his chapters “Microfoundations of Marxism” and “Marxism and Popular Politics.”

7:30-9:00 pm ST-2

General topic: Identity

Continue with discussion of microfoundations approach and its application to identity politics. Discuss Dan's chapter “Identity Politics” and also discuss the essay by Ian Hacking, “Making Up People.”


9:00-11:30 am ST-3

General Topic: Truth

Discuss “Comparison, History, Truth” by Charles Taylor and “Language, Truth and Reason” by Ian Hacking.

3:30-5:30 pm IP-1

General Topic: Identities in the Classroom

Discuss Amie’s and Susan’s introduction to Twenty-First-Century Feminist Classrooms, focusing on their concept of communities of meaning, and thinking carefully about how realist feminist pedagogy enables the objectives of progressive educators.

7:30-9:00 pm Reception at Mr. Kheel’s house
This reception is being hosted by Mr. Kheel. His generous grant has helped make this retreat possible.

Featured event: readings by Helena Maria Viramontes and Roberta Hill.


9:00-11:00 am IP-2

General Topic: Literature and Feminist Pedagogy

Discussion of “Drown,” by Junot Diaz, focusing on the text’s social critique of the social construction of masculinity.

3:30-5:30 pm LA-1

Topic: Junot Diaz, Drown; Toni Morrison, “Recitatif”

Note: The following five questions will frame the discussion for all three LA sessions.

1. What are the consequences for reading of the postposivist realist assumption that literature references a notion of social reality?

2. Are there notable emphases in postposivist realist vs. poststructuralist reading practices?

3. Given that we want to remain flexible, are there, however, any principles that we might accept as methodological?

4. Certain notions, such as identity, race, gender, sex, etc., seem crucial to contemporary modes of reading. In what ways does postposivist realism resemble or differ from these other modes? In what ways might postposivist realism contribute to these other modes?

5. What relationships are there between historical narratives and the interpretation of literary texts? How do we decide which historical narratives to invoke in the process of interpreting a text?

8:00-10:00 pm Paper Presentations*

Format: informal presentations followed by small group discussions

Ulka Shapiro Anjaria, “Ecological subjectivity and the consciousness of continuity: A reading of Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms”

Roberta Hill, “Poetics of Place”

Ernesto J. Martínez, “Risking Disorder in Baldwin’s Another Country”

Satya P. Mohanty, “How Do Texts Reflect Reality? Some Theses on Literary Reference”

John Riofrio, “The Theoretical Possibilities of the Internal Colonial Paradigm: A Brief Reconsideration”

Paul Sawyer, “Identity as Calling: Martin Luther King on War”

John Su, “Fantasies of (Re)collection: Collecting and Social Imagination in A. S. Byatt's Possession: A Romance”

Sean Teuton, “Is ‘Poor’ an Identity? Indian Poverty in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues”

Kay Yandell, “Transcending Hybridity in the Autobiography of Pretty Shield”

* Papers will have been previously circulated.

FRIDAY, 5/16

Morning and Afternoon: Day trip to a nearby town.

8:00-10:00 pm LA-2

Topic: James Baldwin, Another Country


9:00-11:00 am LA-3

Topic: Linda Hogan, Solar Storms

3:30-5:30 pm Concluding Discussion

Sunday, 5/18

Most people leave in the morning or after lunch.


General Coordination
Satya Mohanty

Program and Communications
Paula Moya

Sessions on Realist Theory of Identity and Social Thought
Linda Martín Alcoff and Daniel Little

Sessions on Identity, Realism, and Literary Analysis
Michael Hames-García, Tobin Siebers, and Craig Werner

Sessions on Identity and Pedagogy
Amie Macdonald and Susan Sánchez-Casal

Papers Presentation Session
Paula Moya

Campus Coordinators
Satya Mohanty, Cornell University
Tobin Siebers, University of Michigan
Paula Moya, Stanford University
Sean Teuton and Craig Werner, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Special thanks are due to Mr. Kheel, Eloy Rodriguez, and Helena Maria Viramontes for making this retreat possible.



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