Belonging: 2021-22 Event Series

Text that says Sarah Lawrence College BelongingIn light of the recent ideological conflicts over the very nature of community in the United States—and in countries across the globe—marked by questions of citizenship and images of migration, Sarah Lawrence College is focusing the 2021-22 iteration of its annual academic event series around the topic Belonging. This collective consideration of a theme from a range of geographical, disciplinary, and temporal perspectives builds on the work of the series’ previous themes: Justice (2020-21), E Pluribus Unum (2019-20), Difference in Dialogue (2018-19), and Democracy and Education (2017-18).

The Belonging series will facilitate collaborative contemplation of diverse marginalized communities’ battles over and for belonging throughout the United States’ national journey toward being a place where, as Langston Hughes put it, “opportunity is real, and life is free” and “equality is in the air we breathe.” Beyond the borders of the US, our discussions will also explore historical belonging and its antonym, exclusion—slavery and antisemitism; forced diasporas and migrations; colonialism and its children.

This focus seeks to advance the understanding of the term “belonging” as a call to action, as one side of a dynamic that is not an automatically enduring, always already reality; as something that, in order to be sustainable across time and space, requires sustained ethical action. In order for all members of our communities to experience belonging, we must all commit to empathy-driven engagement: departing from, rather than perpetuating, the status quo. It is our hope that the conversations we will engage in together throughout this year will be a positive step in this direction.

The College welcomes ideas and suggestions for speakers or topics of interest for the remainder of the Belonging series. Share an idea

Recent Event

Interior Chinatown: Migration, Citizenship, Belonging
featuring Charles Yu

Charles Yu and the book cover of Interior Chinatown

On Tuesday, September 28, Charles Yu joined President Cristle Collins Judd in a conversation about his 2020 National Book Award winning Interior Chinatown as well as the larger topic of belonging. Questions from the audience, comprised of students, faculty, staff, and the general public both in person and online, made for a thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion.

Charles Yu is the author of four books, including Interior Chinatown (the winner of the 2020 National Book Award for fiction), and the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (a New York Times Notable Book and a TIME magazine best book of the year). He received the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award and was nominated for two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the HBO series, Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC, and HBO. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publications. Together with, he established the Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Writing Prizes, in honor of his parents.