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26 September 2009

Geo-Politicized Space: Race, Representation & the 2010 Census

November 4, 2009: Peter Wagner will be speaking about prison-based gerrymandering on a Geo-Politicized Space: Race, Representation & the 2010 Census panel hosted by Muhlenberg College's Center for Ethics in Allentown, PA. The panel will be at 7pm in Moyer Hall.

Geo-Politicized Space: Race, Representation & the 2010 Census: An Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Political Science

In 2010, the United States will undertake its 23rd decennial census of our population. Much is at stake.  The Census affects more than $300 billion per year in state and federal funding for local communities. Just as important, the Census is used to apportion seats in the US House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislators, ultimately shaping our electoral power as citizens and members of local communities. The Census informs the decisions of political leaders, determines school district assignment areas, defines legislative districts, and affects the representation of communities and groups in government.
The Census, in short, is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, providing information that affects decisions ranging from the provision of services to the elderly; to the construction of new roads and schools; to the safeguarding of electoral competitiveness, voting rights, and representative democracy.  In addition, following the 22nd Census, the 2010 Census will include a "multiracial" category in the counting and mapping of community populations across the nation, raising a host of questions about the political, legal, and ethical problems created by the uncertainty of counting and classifying multiracial individuals.

This multi-scholar panel of academic experts from a range of fields will discuss the implications of the 2010 Census with an emphasis on the affects of the Census and political apportionment on race and representation. How does the inclusion of a "multiracial" category in the US Census both reflect the fiction of exclusive racial categories and create new problems for safeguarding the civil rights of racial minority populations?
How do political and partisan leaders attempt to draw district boundaries so as to maximize institutional and electoral power? How do new technologies make it possible for legislatures to "gerrymander" districts for partisan advantage? What is a "community of interest," and how are these communities determined by race, or by "natural" geographical boundaries? Are "majority-minority" districts a legitimate response to historical discrimination faced by African American and Latino communities, or do such districts  give unfair preferences to one section of the population? How does the counting of the population and the drawing of district lines shape the political and racial landscape of minority and majority communities, and what are the ethical dilemmas raised in the drawing of these political boundaries?  

Panelists include Peter Wagner, Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative; Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science at the University of California--Berkeley; and Aitya Stokes-Brown, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bucknell University

Posted via email from Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition

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