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Equity & Difference

What’s the difference with “difference”?

Thurs. Jan. 14, 2016      7:30 p.m.

Kane Hall 130, UW Campus

Ralina L. Joseph

Director, CCDE, associate professor, department of communication, University of Washington

This event is sold out. Wait list attendees will be accommodated on a space-available basis.

Today, we often employ the word “difference” as a catch-all word when we talk about race, gender, and sexuality. Difference replaces—or rather revises—‘diversity’, ‘multiculturalism’, or a long-connected string of descriptors such as race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ability. But what does this shift in language mean and why is it significant for the ways in which we assess, inhabit, and perhaps even change our world? Does a change to “difference” lead to a change in identity and inequality? Join Ralina Joseph as we discuss why words matter and how identity descriptions change over time.


Ralina JosephRalina Joseph is interested in the mediated communication of difference, or how race, gender, class, and sexuality structure our understandings of the world. Her first book, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, 2013), critiques anti-Black racism in mixed-race African American representations in the decade leading up to Obama’s 2008 election. She is currently working on her second book project, Screening Strategic Ambiguity: Black Women, Television Culture and the PostIdentity Dance, an examination of African American women’s negotiation of the ostensibly “after” moment of racism and sexism. She has published work in a variety of scholarly journals. She is also co-editing and contributing to two collections of essays: one on women of color in higher education and a second on African American “respectability politics.”

In her time at UW, Dr. Joseph has participated in a wide variety of diversity-related issues on campus, including initiating the Communication Department’s Communication and Difference Course arc, and co-founding WIRED (Women Investigating Race, Ethnicity, and Difference), a group for UW tenure-track faculty working in the areas of difference. She is on editorial boards of Communication, Culture, and Critique and Cinema Journal, and chairs the Critical Ethnic Studies Committee of the American Studies Association. Professor Joseph is a recipient of awards and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, Woodrow Wilson/Mellon, the University of California, the American Association of University Women, and the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego and B. A. in American Civilization from Brown University.

Brought to you by the UW Graduate School and the UWAA, Equity & Difference is series of talks that expose and explain transgressions and struggles—both systematic and personal—experienced by too many in our communities today, featuring thought leaders from our campus and around the world who are working to open our eyes to the consequences of prejudice, and seeking solutions for change.

UWAA and UWRA members receive advance registration for the series! Not a member? Join today!

For more information, contact the UW Alumni Association at 206-543-0540 or

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