Human Bridges in the Study of Race, Religion, Art, and Politics with K. Healan Gaston & Steven Harris


Monday, December 7, 2020, 5:00pm to 6:00pm



This talk will explore teaching about difference in a Divinity School course that looks at connections between the Harlem Renaissance and Mexican Modernism during the 1920s and 1930s. Using holiday-themed examples and compelling visual images, we will juxtapose the lives and works of two important figures in the course: Miguel Covarrubias, a Mexican-born caricaturist who spent most of his life in New York City illustrating for Harlem Renaissance texts and popular magazines, and Elizabeth Catlett, a U.S.-born Black sculptor and printmaker who spent her life in Mexico where she created some of the most powerful symbols and images of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Covarrubias and Catlett captured our students' imaginations in part because they serve as "human bridges" connecting the United States with Mexico as well the past with the present. Please join for a lively and wide-ranging meditation on the dynamic interplay of race, religion, art, and politics, and the cross-fertilization between history and ethics.

K. Healan Gaston is a Lecturer on American Religious History and Ethics at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of Imagining Judeo-Christian America: Religion, Secularism, and the Redefinition of Democracy (University of Chicago Press, 2019). This talk is based on her fall 2020 course "Before Religious Pluralism: Religion, Race, Art, and Politics," which features the Whitney Museum's Vida Americana exhibit catalog as one of its main texts:

Steven Harris is an emerging scholar of American religion and a faith-based public policy expert. Currently a PhD student in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard, his research interests lie at the historical intersection of black religious thought and Calvinistic theology. Most recently, he has considered the theo-logics of historical black religious actors in conversation with the contemporary discursive edges of critical race theory and Afro-pessimist thought.

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