Our work is motivated by deep concerns about patterns of unfair treatment, inequality, conflict, and violence that cut along ethnic, racial, and national lines in the United States and around the globe. But we are not an advocacy organization — our central mission is to conduct rigorous research to lay bare such patterns, and to evaluate the effects of solutions that might contribute to more just and prosperous societies.
Careful historical analysis Informs Our Research… But History is not Destiny.
Serious research on global diversity demands appreciation of historical processes, events, and institutions. Our lab is focused on wedding rigorous historical analysis to contemporary patterns and policies.
While highlighting the importance of the past, we challenge the fatalistic notion that identity-based conflicts are merely “ancient hatreds,” let alone that history is destiny. We must grapple with questions such as, how and why did particular ethnic, racial and national identities become salient? What are the political and economic conditions under which migration takes place? Are there enduring lessons to be learned about how to harness the value of diversity towards human dignity, development and sustained peace?
Looking forward, can historical and theoretical insights be applied to the design of institutions, public policies, computational algorithms, cities, and the very conception of human identities? How will emerging global trends in computing, communication, and urbanization, as well as new challenges, such as climate change and globalization, contribute to the manifestation of diversity?
Our work considers how answers to the question of “who is us?” shapes tangible outcomes, including health, economic development, security, and human rights. And we consider how democratic institutions can contribute to the building of tolerant and cohesive communities.