About Us

The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University (CSSD) promotes innovative interdisciplinary scholarship on the role of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race in global dynamics of power and inequality. Working together with colleagues from universities and research centers around the world, CSSD Fellows and faculty challenge the disciplinary divides among the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences by asking not only how historical categories of social difference intersect on the level of identity, but also how these categories shape institutions, modes of knowing, acts of representation, and processes of globalization. The Center’s collaborative work recognizes the crucial role of history in the study of global structures of inequality and social difference and develops rigorous conceptual and empirical analyses of complex networks of culture and power. CSSD creates the conditions for scholars, artists and practitioners to imagine alternative social structures and to set new and daring intellectual agendas for the future.


Founded at Columbia University in 2008, CSSD brings together distinguished faculty in humanities, law, social science and the arts, to investigate problems of social, economic, and cultural inequality. As the umbrella organization and research hub for five interdisciplinary programs -- the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race; the Institute for Research in African-American Studies; the Institute for Research on Women and Gender; the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society; the Barnard Center for Research on Women -- CSSD creates synergies among a wide range of scholars who are committed to the advancement of rigorous interdisciplinary research.  

The work of the Center takes full advantage of what a world-class university has to offer – a space for deep thinking, innovative pedagogy, and also an investment in those advancing informed regional and comparative research.  Bringing Arts and Sciences faculty into conversation with faculty from Columbia’s professional schools, along with scholars, artists, writers, and policymakers in the U.S. and abroad, CSSD deepens Columbia’s partnerships at home and abroad via Columbia's Global Centers.


2016-17 Executive Committee

Lila Abu-Lughod
Rachel Adams 
Tina Campt 
Laura Ciolkowski 
Patricia Dailey
Eileen Gilooly 
Stathis Gourgouris 
Jack Halberstam
Jean Howard 
Alice Kessler-Harris 
Lydia Liu
Liza McIntosh
Premilla Nadasen
Frances Negrón-Muntaner
Anupama Rao 
Sam Roberts
Terry Roethlein 
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak 
Neferti Tadiar 
Paige West