Third Interseminars Project and Faculty Conveners Announced

Interseminars Project to Explore “Collisions across Color Lines”

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - October 4, 2023

The Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is pleased to launch the third Interseminars Initiative project, which will be led by three faculty conveners: Erik McDuffie (African American Studies and History), Gilberto Rosas (Anthropology and Latina/Latino Studies) and Gisela Sin (Political Science). The project will take place in the summer of 2024 through fall 2025.

Funded by a $2,000,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Interseminars Initiative supports three such projects over three successive years, each selected through a competitive application process. The newly selected project, titled “Collisions across Color Lines: Reconsidering Racism, Movements, and Epistemes in the Americas, is an invitation to work collectively in a critical interrogation of deeply embedded intersecting structures of race and inequality and how they periodically erupt in the Americas, if not the globe.

As the project description states: “At stake in this Interseminar are the collisions between lived experiences of race and racism; their relation with the movement of people, ideas, and revolutionary imaginaries that span the hemisphere; and the structures within which knowledge is produced and reproduced. We envision 'collisions' as a productive lens for critically exploring how activists, artists, and other intellectuals reckon with regional epistemes and (re)making of race and racism as they relate to anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, the vexed and complicated position of other impoverished and racialized mestizo or other 'Brown' communities, particularly migrants and those otherwise crossing international boundaries, and related formations of oppression, gender and sexualities foremost among them.”

The project will be student-centered, creating a creative and collaborative space in which fellows can actively participate in shaping what they believe graduate education should look like. Ultimately, the project aims to forge a broad and inclusive community of intellectuals from across the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences, committed to transforming graduate education, to advancing social justice, and to building a better future world.

In addition to the Mellon Foundation, the Interseminars Initiative is supported by the Graduate College, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

Graduate Application

Interested graduate students are invited to apply by November 15, 2023. An info session will be held on Zoom on October 9 at 4:00 p.m. Register to attend the Zoom session.

About the Faculty Conveners

Professional photo of Professor Erik S. McDuffie

Erik S. McDuffie is an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of the award-winning monograph Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Duke University Press, 2011). His forthcoming book is titled The Second Battle for Africa: Garveyism, the U.S. Heartland, and Global Black Freedom (Duke University Press). He has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and American Council for Learned Societies. His teaching has consistently won recognition from the Center for Teaching Excellence. He is a co-PI for the Africana World Studies at the University of Illinois and Urbana and University of Illinois Chicago grant funded through the UI System Presidential Initiative: Expanding the Impact of the Arts and Humanities. He holds the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Faculty fellowship. His professional service is reflected in his active involvement in national and international professional societies and associations and his contributions toward developing scholarly research. He serves on the editorial boards of the University of Illinois Press, African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, and Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International. From 2017 to 2019, he served as the vice president of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD). A sixth generation Midwesterner, his family hails from the United States, Canada, and St. Kitts.

Professional photo of Professor Gilberto Rosas

Gilberto Rosas is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Latina/Latino Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he chairs the latter. With interests in “the state,” racism and its broad complexities, critical ethnography, and experimental writing, Rosas is author of the award-winning Barrio Libre: Criminalizing States and Delinquent Refusals of the New Frontier (Duke University Press, 2012) and the recently published Unsettling: The El Paso Massacre, Resurgent White Nationalism, and the US-Mexico Border (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2023), and other well-received work. He is also the editor of The Border Reader along with Mireya Loza (Duke University Press, 2023). Professor Rosas is active in Immigrant Rights movements both locally and nationally, and regularly gives expert testimony on behalf of people in asylum and related legal proceedings, and has been active in an innovative scholarship collaboration addressing health inequities.

Professional photo of Professor Gisela Sin

Gisela Sin is associate professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois. She studies political institutions with an emphasis on the strategic elements of separation of powers and is currently working on presidential veto politics. She is the author of the award-winning book Separation of Powers and Legislative Organization (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and the coauthor of Congreso, Presidencia y Justicia en Argentina (TEMAS, 1999). Her research has been published in the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, the Journal of Legislative Studies, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organizations, Studies in American Political Development, the Journal of Politics in Latin America, Perpectives on Politics, and Public Choice. She has presented her work at universities throughout Latin America and Europe and was a scholar in residence at Universidad Católica de Chile, Instituto Iberoamericano Universidad de Salamanca, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, and a Fulbright Scholar in the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Universidad del Salvador in Argentina.


Interseminars represents the latest thinking on how best to practice a genuinely collaborative and equitable commitment to graduate training in the public research university of the 21st century. Through the initiative, faculty and graduate students collaborate in the design of cross-departmental and cross-college courses, with funding for key aspects of that work: co-curricular programming, shared research experiences and fellowship support for students, particularly those historically underrepresented in higher education.

Up to eight graduate students will be selected to participate in the second cohort’s two summer intensives, interdisciplinary methods seminar and themed seminar course, and to engage in collaborative research with the faculty co-leaders. Each project spans an 18-month period, culminating in a community event.

Read about the first Interseminars project, which completed in fall 2023.

The second Interseminars project, “Improvise & Intervene,” is currently in progress. See their planned events.

For More Information

Interseminars Initiative web page

Contact: Erin Ciciora, Senior Communications Manager