Past Event

New Utopias: Can We Heal the Wounds of the Past?

January 25, 2022
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Recent debates over racism and inequality highlight the enduring impact of past wrongs and historical injustices on social relations today. Instances of police and civic violence on both sides of the Atlantic demonstrate how prejudice still runs deep, despite the progress achieved by civil rights advocates since the 1960s. A renewed focus on systemic racism reveals the degree to which the legacy of prejudice and discrimination continues to shape political institutions and power relations today. At the same time, in recent years, we have witnessed many efforts aimed at reconciling with the past: from museums and commemorations to school curricula and artistic productions. We must ask ourselves if our societies will fully come to terms with their violent past. What are the long-term effects of racism on human behavior and social structures? How can the trauma of discrimination be overcome? How can societies rebuild trust with communities that have suffered and continue to suffer egregious injustices? How can we move beyond simply acknowledging the past to rebuilding a sense of common purpose among the many groups that constitute our societies?

In order to address these questions, the Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the European Institute, and the Alliance Program have brought together an international panel of experts to propose diverse perspectives on these issues.

Moderator: Mirna Safi, Professor of Sociology, Sciences Po


Soulaymane Bachir Diagne, Professor of French and Philosophy, Columbia University

Sarah Gensburger, Research Professor in Political Science and History, CNRS

Courtney Cogburn, Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University