Professor Elijah Anderson, the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University, will deliver a lecture on his recent ethnographic work, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life.

May 4, 2012 6:30 p.m.

The racial incorporation process that began with the civil rights movement of the 1960s affected American institutions and the urban environment. Although cities remain segregated by race, African-Americans and other people of color are increasingly present in settings once viewed as off limits to them. Under the “cosmopolitan canopy”—a sheltered place of civil integration in an otherwise segregated society—urban dwellers restrain keep their ethnocentric impulses. Nonetheless, incidents involving race, class, sexual preference, and gender sometimes threaten to destroy civil harmony. Perhaps the most troubling ones arise when Black people act out social roles that others do not expect or accept. These acts draw “color lines” that represent a fundamental fault line in present-day American culture, especially for Black people who experience upward mobility. When such events take place, the effects can be fatal, as was the case for Trayvon Martin. These situations get managed in ways meant to preserve the canopy and thus maintain a veneer of racial civility—at least until the next incident arises.

Elijah Anderson is one of the leading urban ethnographers in the United States. His publications include Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (1999), winner of the Komarovsky Award from the Eastern Sociological Society; Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (1990), winner of the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award for the best published book in the area of Urban Sociology; and the classic sociological work, A Place on the Corner (1978; 2nd ed., 2003).

6 East 16th Street Room 1103

Date & Time:
May 4, 2012 6:30 p.m.

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served