Debra Thompson, a McGill University professor and expert on race and ethnic politics, will explore the complex experience of Black people in North America, juxtaposing her deep, ancestral links to the United States with a parallel but at times competing national affinity with the land to which many enslaved Black Americans once fled: Canada. Through the analytical insights of black political thought, Prof. Thompson uses personal narrative to explore the boundaries of racial belonging and identify key facets of Canadian ideas about race and racism; to analyze the transnational nuances and contours of the African diaspora in North America; and ultimately, to think through what it means to be in a place, but not be of that place.
Professor Debra Thompson is an associate professor of political science at McGill University, specializing in race and ethnic politics. Born in Canada, she later moved to the United States, where she taught at several universities. Her award-winning book, The Schematic State: Race, Transnationalism, and the Politics of the Census (Cambridge University Press, 2016) is a study of the political development of racial classifications on the national censuses of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. She is currently writing two book projects: the first explores the transnational dynamics of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the second, co-authored with Keith Banting (Queens University) analyzes the puzzling persistence of racial inequality in Canada.