Doing Gender, Mixed Race, and Visual Culture

Thursday, March 9, 2023, 5 - 6pm

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Rachel Afi Quinn

Rachel Afi Quinn, Ph.D., gives a free online talk about how her own mixed-race identity (as Ghanaian American and Jewish) has informed her work as a scholar. She will discuss how and why she focuses on visual culture in her interdisciplinary study of blackness and will share why she is so committed to doing transnational feminist cultural studies research. The event is part of The Cooper Union’s ongoing series around the theme of intersectional justice.

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Rachel Afi Quinn is associate professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston. Her transnational feminist cultural studies scholarship focuses on mixed race, gender, and sexuality in the African Diaspora. Her first book, Being La Dominicana: Race and Gender in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo was published in July 2021 with University of Illinois Press. She is the recipient of a Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship for 2022-23 and has earned an NEH Award for Faculty for the completion of her second book, Good Women Die: Re-Envisioning the Life of Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967). Dr. Quinn was part of a filmmaking team that produced the documentary film Cimarrón Spirit (2015) about contemporary Afro-Dominican identities. She was co-founder of the social justice feminist collective South Asian Youth in Houston Unite (SAYHU).  She earned a BA in African American studies from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan.

This series is co-organized by the Office of Student Affairs and Nada Ayad, Associate Dean of HSS, as a continuation of a reading and discussion series for first-year students that was held as part of the Fall 2020 new student orientation. In the spirit of The Cooper Union mission, the Black Student Union and the Cooper Climate Coalition, along with several other Cooper students and faculty, were deeply involved in the articulation of the program as well as in contributing to the reading list and suggesting speakers.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.