Racism and Terrorism are Topics of Discussion at Hobart and William Smith – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Racism and Terrorism are Topics of Discussion at Hobart and William Smith

Yamuna Sangarasivam, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology, delves into how “the language of terrorism” manipulates and defines relationships of power

(February 18, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.–In the past few years, Americans have become thoroughly familiar with the term “terror” and its variants. Perhaps a bit too familiar, as the word becomes a branding tool for specific ethnicities and religions instead of a simple descriptor.

Such is the thrust of “Racism and Terrorism: Old Fears as New Anxieties,” presented by Hobart and William Smith Professor Yamuna Sangarasivam as part of the Colleges' Provost's lecture series. The discussion begins at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, in Stern Hall 103. Both the talk and the reception following are open to faculty, students, staff and the Geneva community.

Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Canada, United States and Sri Lanka since 1994, Sangarasivam has come to the conclusion that the constructions and uses of the word “terrorist” frequently support a politically motivated image of a racialized enemy. She hopes her talk will help dispel that notion, or at least get people to think about the connotations of the language they use. “Basically, I'm suggesting we pay attention to how we use the terms 'terrorist' and 'terrorism' in our everyday speech,” she says.

Sangarasivam holds a bachelor's degree in musicology from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, a master's degree in dance ethnology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Syracuse University. Before joining the faculty of Hobart and William Smith in 2003, she taught at Ithaca College, Colgate University and Syracuse University.

Initiated in 2004, the Provost's Series features HWS professors and instructors at the podium.