The Center

The Center for the Study of Social Difference is an interdisciplinary research center supporting collaborative projects that address gender, race, sexuality, and other forms of inequality to foster ethical and progressive social change. 

Current Projects

Reframing Gendered Violence aims to open up a critical global conversation among scholars and practitioners that recasts the problem of violence against women as it is currently discussed in a wide range of fields, both academic and policy-oriented, including human rights, public health, journalism, law, feminist studies, literature, sociology, religious studies, anthropology, and history. The goal is to move the conversation on this crucial topic in new directions, pointing to elisions and exclusions in many common-sense understandings of these terms; deepening the ways in which we engage with the manifestations and causes of such violence; unpacking the politics through which accusations of GBV can sometimes be used to pathologize entire communities, societies or religious traditions, or to divert attention from more systemic and fundamental forms of abuse.

Bandung Humanisms is an interdisciplinary research project examining the workings of Bandung Humanisms, the progressive political, social, and cultural movement among nations of the Global South that refused to ally with either major power bloc during the Cold War. The working group, a collaboration between scholars at Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles uncovers the post-colonial developing world’s espousal of a radical brand of humanism and self-determination that gave rise to the Non-Aligned Movement of non-aggressor states. Scholars from a diverse range of fields trace the institutions, associations, writings, and artworks identified with the Bandung Humanisms movement, connecting them to current global struggles for social justice.

Pacific Climate Circuits applies lenses of race, class, gender, sexuality, and inequality to the current analyses of climate change in the Pacific Region. The working group examines the specific political-economic systems culpable for climate change in the region, linking them to its histories of colonialism and neoliberalism. Researchers seek solutions outside the typical hard sciences approach, instead drawing on scholarship in the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences to scrutinize the region, its environment, and its people.

Unpayable Debt: Capital, Violence, and the New Global Economy is a comparative research and public engagement project about the emergence and impact of massive debt on vulnerable polities and populations. Unpayable Debt focuses on Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt to U.S. creditors and raises critical questions about the role of insurmountable debt in contemporary capitalism; the relationship between debt, migration, and violence; and the emergence of new political and cultural identities in subordinated groups. The project's scholars examine the politics of information asymmetry—a lack of data and conceptual tools—and how this might undermine social mobilization in impoverished communities, peoples, and countries.