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2020 International Roundtable

International Roundtable 2020 Poster
Linocut by Lela Pierce

27th Annual International Roundtable

Facing Pandemics of Disease and Race: Radically Reimagining for Liberatory Futures
Fall 2020

Every autumn, Macalester hosts the International Roundtable, a community-wide forum exploring critical issues from a variety of perspectives. Macalester invites speakers, academics, practitioners, artists, community members, and performers to offer their work and experiences to galvanize student engagement and prompt thinking across local, national, and global levels.

The IRT builds on a summer webinar series, Untangling Racial Politics and Ontologies: Local and Global Antagonisms and Possibilities

At present, the world is facing more than one pandemic: the coronavirus, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and racism. While the outbreak of COVID-19 has appeared recently, it intersects with long histories of  anti-Blackness and racism. Communities of color have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus due to existing health, economic and social inequities. These are connected to ideologies and practices underlying systems of policing that are fundamentally tied to the state-sanctioned murder and the control of Black bodies. While fear of contagion and death had kept people in self-isolation at home, George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police sparked a wave of protests against police brutality, anti-Blackness and racism across the United States and the world. We are urgently confronted with challenging questions by the confluence of these pandemics: How do we understand worlds built on anti-Blackness? How might we better understand policing as an institution deeply implicated in the social inequities where it serves the needs of the privileged sectors of our society while violently suppressing the needs of its most precarious members to the point of death? How do we eliminate the denial of humanity that underlies state sanctioned murders by police and deep social and structural inequities that society has long ignored or normalized? How do we rethink the limits of notions of democracy and freedom in the face of their complicity with neoliberalism and fascism? What are the connections between systems of social control and the destruction of natural environments that exacerbate racial and economic disparities? The International Roundtable will provide the opportunity for all of us to consider our participation in the creation of meaning and new worlds. What is the world we want to live in? What is our role in academia, our communities, and the world?  How might we use this moment to rethink our contributions and what we might do to create something new for all?

As we begin the International Roundtable, we honor the fact that Macalester College is on Dakota land. This is the ancestral homeland of the Dakota people (particularly the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands) who were forcibly exiled from the land because of aggressive and persistent settler colonialism. Although the college occupies the lands because of histories of forced removals and persistent settler colonialism, this is still Dakota land; the legal concept of property is built on the violation of Indigenous sovereignty. As we celebrate the removal of statues and the renaming of buildings, we also acknowledge how much of our existence is built on continued violences and erasures. As we honor the strength and survival of Dakota ancestors, we are called to move beyond the symbolic, to center and build with descendants of those whose lands and labor provide the foundations of all that we do.

International Roundtable 2020 Planning Group:

I-Chun Catherine Chang, Assistant Professor, Geography
Ruthann Godollei, Wallace Professor, Art and Art History
Olga González, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Associate Dean, Annan IGC
Ellen Holt-Werle, Librarian, Archives and Special Collections
Ruth Janisch, Assistant Dean for Educational Partnerships, Annan IGC
Donna Maeda, Dean, Annan IGC and Professor, American Studies
Sedric McClure, Assistant Dean, DML
Khaldoun Samman, Professor, Sociology
Marjorie Trueblood, Dean of Multicultural Life, DML


We would like to thank the many members of the Macalester community who worked to make the 2020 International Roundtable possible. While we are unable to list everyone who contributed, we would like to give special thanks to the following:

Communications and Marketing; Information Technology Services; Professor Ruthann Godollei, Art and Art History; Professor John Kim, Media and Cultural Studies; Lela Pierce, ’08; Kevin Ward, Avalon School; Marina Ito, Research and Instruction Librarian, Outreach and User Experience, Wallace Library; the staff of the Department of Multicultural Life, and the staff of the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship, particularly Meg Thorson, Matthew Katsaros, and Zinnia Schwartz.

Photo of Cecilio Ortiz-Garcia

Cecilio Ortiz García is Hubert Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor of Energy Policy and Governance, Environmental Studies, Macalester College.

Photo of Marla Perez Lugo

Marla Pérez Lugo is Hubert Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor of Environmental Sociology, Environmental Studies, Macalester College.

Logo of a blue half-moon and arc on an ivory background

Duaba Unenra is Director of Neighborhood Engagement and Learning, Confluence Studio.

Photo of Quito Ziegler

Quito Ziegler (’98) is Professor of Humanities, School of Visual Arts, and Co-founder, Mutual Aid NYC.