A Message from the Chair

Submitted by Lorna Tampico Hamill on

I want to open this new schoolyear with all of you in the spirit and ethos of hope, not so much to only mean that we should keep on being optimistic about our future, but really, to keep on proactively transforming our lives, given all the challenges and successes we’ve been experiencing.  Being confident about where we’re headed is not something I would discourage.  But being intentional about changing our lives for the better, even if we’re unsure about how to do it, is twice as good as it sounds.  I was reminded of this way of thinking while participating in an interview session about UW alumnus Tony Nabors, someone who remembers taking AES classes when he was still a student and getting inspiration from them to pioneer a career in diversity and equity work.  Now, he has his own consulting firm called Racial Equity Insights.

When the interviewer asked me about what stands out for me in this moment as an AES professor, my memory bank quickly referenced Cornel West’s “prophetic imagination,” something that I understand to be the practice of keeping vigilance over our struggles while being visionary about engaging with such struggles, akin to thinking outside the box and testing out new ways of being and becoming.  It is this kind of prophetic imagination that drew us to Maryam Aziz, a scholar of Black Power martial arts, to be our newest assistant professor, and Vince Schleitwiler, an expert on literary productions that cut across racial communities, to be our newest assistant teaching professor.  Welcome to both of you!

Prophetic imagination is how historically we, as a collective of faculty, staff, and community allies, have defined our work, and what continues to inspire our work in areas as diverse in their out-of-the-box ways as US empire studies, neuroscientific technologies, Afro-sonic modernity, and border braceros, to name a few.  Our high-achieving students are making their mark too, and I’m compelled by my excitement to mention them here: Abigail Heath, 2022 Dean’s Medalist for the College of Arts and Sciences; Connie So’s students, collectively producing the graphic novel In A Yellow Tone; and Han Eckelberg, whose art, “Bruce Lee Ascending,” now gloriously graces the Odegaard Library grand entrance, also to name a few!

A prophetic imagination is the one that motivates us to teach and do work with our communities in our efforts to address social injustice.  And it is, most emphatically, and with so much appreciation, the reason why you, our allies in our struggles, continue to support our partnerships on behalf of social transformation! It is what fuels our successes as much as it is produced by our achievements.  And it is also the kind of affirming imagination that makes us hope and transform in spite of and in the name of our struggles.

Welcome to the new schoolyear!

Rick Bonus

Professor and Chair