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Not Quite Not White: A Conversation with Sharmila Sen and Jyoti Rao
7:00 PM - 11:59 PM California Institute of Integral Studies
Date: September 20, 2018 to September 20, 2018
Where: California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, California, United States, 94103
Phone: N/A
Event Type: Other
Ticket Price: N/A
This event is part of The Haresh & Joan Shah Lecture & Performance Series. At the age of 12, Sharmila Sen emigrated from India to America. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race—on INS forms, at the doctor’s office, in middle school. Never identifying with a race in the India of her childhood, she rejected her new “not quite” designation—not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian—and spent much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. After her teen years trying to assimilate—watching shows like General Hospital and The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran and Prince, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts—she was forced to reckon with the hard questions. What does it mean to be white? Why does whiteness retain the magic cloak of invisibility, while other colors are made hyper visible, and how much does whiteness figure into Americanness? Sharmila distilled her experiences into a book, Not Quite Not White, a witty and sharply honest story of discovering that not-whiteness can be the very thing that makes us American. Join CIIS Professor Jyoti Rao for a conversation with Sharmila about her life, her work, and her ideas for a new path forward for the next not quite not white generation.   Sharmila Sen grew up in Calcutta, India, and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve. She was educated in the public schools of Cambridge, Massachusetts, received her AB from Harvard, and her PhD from Yale in English literature. As an assistant professor at Harvard she taught courses on literatures from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean for seven years. Currently, she is executive editor-at-large at Harvard University Press. Sharmila has lived and worked in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. She has lectured around the world on postcolonial literature and culture and published essays on racism and immigration. Sharmila resides in Cambridge, with her architect husband and their three children. Jyoti R