Skip to:

Materia: Jameelah Morris & Reagan Ross


Materia: Jameelah Morris & Reagan Ross

Jun 02, 2021

materia’s sixth event of the 2020-2021 academic term took place on Thursday, May 13 via Zoom. The session featured two talks by graduate students Reagan Ross (Communication, Stanford) and Jameelah Morris (Anthropology, Stanford), followed by a Q&A and open discussion.

In the first part of the session, the speakers delivered brief talks about their research in progress. Reagan Ross’s presentation focused on the results of an ethnographic study of the behavior of a problem-solving court judge in a California court. According to the speaker’s assessment, while the judge’s performance often aligns with the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, said judge also presents himself as benevolent or stern depending on whether or not he’s speaking with an "ideal" or a "problem" participant. The findings presented in Reagan’s talk demonstrated that the judge’s performance on the problem-solving court stage contributes to the coercive nature of the court. Jameelah Morris’s talk also touched upon modes of coercion and violence. In particular, she addressed the question of how gendered-racialized police violence against young Black people scaffolds the production of Cartagena as Colombia’s “paradise.” In this context, Jameelah examined how anti-black state violence frustrates normative expectations of genealogical time and how Black youth-led political mobilizations critically problematize "innocence” as both a legitimizing logic of antiblackness and a constitutive feature of discourses of “the child.”

The session continued with a Q&A and open discussion. Questions posed in this part of the event addressed the relationships between gendered-racialized violence, (in)justice, and (neo)liberalism, the tension between national, gendered, and racial identities, and the plausibility of challenging individual concepts of personal identity through collective understandings of how subjects come to be socially “read” and individuated. The meeting also discussed concerns peculiar to our contemporary times, marked by political, economic, and social turmoil in the Americas. The event ended on a reflective note, with challenging though encouraging remarks by both the invited speakers and materia organizers.

materia is a DLCL Focal Group on anthropodecentric thinking. Since 2014, the group has served as a platform for graduate and faculty research. Our meetings combine reading discussion, student presentations, and guest speakers. Regular workshop meetings include some twenty-five participants from ILAC and Comp Lit (the pillars of the group), as well as from English, MTL, German, Anthropology, and Music, among others. We collaborate with several other groups on campus and correspond with similar projects in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Cognate courses, as well as completed and ongoing dissertation projects, speak to the continuing impact of the group. There have been sixteen workshops and an international conference to date. The former average twenty-five participants; the latter had over seventy. The convening theme for our sixth year of activities is “Life and Transmission.”

Session formats alternate to include discussions of readings moderated by faculty and graduate students, presentations of works-in-progress, and talks by guest speakers. All readings will be pre-distributed by email and are available to download from our DLCL site,

For more information, please contact Romi Wainberg at