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Alison Kibler (Public Lecture: Truth & Reconciliation)

When Nov 02, 2015
from 07:00 PM to 08:00 PM
Where The Attic Room of the State Theatre
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Alison Kibler
Professor of American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Franklin & Marshall College

Dr. Kibler’s research focuses on political struggles over popular culture, particularly in relation to race and gender.  She recently published Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish and African American Struggles Over Race and Representation, 1890-1930, which shows how Irish, Jewish, and African American groups of the turn of the twentieth century resisted harmful representations in popular culture by lobbying behind the scenes, staging theater riots, and using the law to censor productions. These groups often advocated race-based censorship (or what we refer to as hate speech codes today). This work was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Long History of Hate Speech: Irish, Jewish and African American Resistance to Racial Ridicule, 1890-1930

Controversies over hate speech are nothing new. They date back to the Irish, Jewish and African American campaigns against racial caricatures and images of racial violence in popular culture in the early twentieth century. During this period, these three groups attacked what they perceived as harmful representations of their race by lobbying behind the scenes, boycotting particular acts, and, in some cases, staging theater riots. Although their preferred tactics often diverged, all three campaigns against racial ridicule endorsed bans on racial ridicule in motion picture censorship laws. This early history of hate speech shows that the tension between free speech, democracy and racial equality have been a century-long dilemma in the United States.