The Democracy & Debate Theme Semester, in partnership with the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), is proud to issue this call for contributions to the Kamala Harris Syllabus, a project designed to assist us in probing the significance of Kamala Harris and the Vice Presidency in this moment of change, challenge, and debate in American democracy and international affairs.
We invite scholars across all disciplines to submit suggestions for books, articles, podcasts, and other educational material that will be curated by our team of editors and featured on a public website. Among other things, this website will be a resource to scholars, students, and practitioners across the nation and world who witnessed and now seek to contextualize Harris’ inauguration. We will be accepting submissions from Monday, January 25th through Monday, February 22nd. The curated syllabus will become publicly available in early March.
Vice President Kamala Harris has broken gender and racial barriers in American politics. She now begins a four-year term in office during a historic moment marked by a global pandemic, national economic hardship, and an upswing in overt nativist sentiments and racism. As a former US senator and state attorney general, she brings a wealth of expertise and experience to a role that she will inevitably reframe in the years to come.
Harris’ swearing-in on January 20th also calls our attention to a crossroads and perhaps an inflection point in American history. She took the oath minutes before Joseph Biden became the 46th president of the United States, 14 days after the assault on the Capitol by domestic terrorists, and a little over 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment. The commemoration of this suffragette anniversary during the 2020 calendar year often reflected the extent to which women of color were excluded from the extension of the franchise. Such exclusions were especially poignant in an election year that witnessed widespread concerns about voter suppression and inequitable access to the polls.
Our hope is that this collective public syllabus project will be as much about the future as the past and the present. How might Harris' vice presidency help us think critically about movement toward a more diverse and inclusive union? This ethos serves as a major impetus and inspiration for this project. In this regard, Harris' own professional history is not without some controversy. Indeed, many have been skeptical of her self-presentation as a “progressive prosecutor” and “reformer” working within a broken criminal justice system while serving as a prosecutor, district attorney, and California’s attorney general. Others aver that she was in fact ahead of her time in addressing the implications of “tough on crime” policies that exacerbated racial disparities and accelerated mass criminalization and incarceration.
While recognizing the limits that the vice presidency imposes on the individuals who hold that office, we want to think collectively about the myriad domestic and international issues that both Harris’ inauguration as vice president and the identities she embodies raise for critical engagement as we seek a path for a more diverse union.
Please email us at email@example.com with any questions and/or to submit your materials. Please limit your submissions to up to three suggestions. We will notify you if your submission(s) is accepted.