Ann Morning. Race and Razza: Concepts of Difference in the U.S. and Italy

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Race and Razza: Concepts of Difference in the United States and Italy

Scholars of racism in Western Europe often contend that Europeans conceive of group differences in cultural terms whereas Americans adhere to more biological notions of difference. Yet this comparative claim is rarely subjected to empirical inquiry. Our project focuses on the case of Italy in order to systematically compare beliefs about the nature of difference on both sides of the Atlantic. In-depth interviews conducted with 75 college students in Milan, Bologna, and Naples, in conjunction with interviews of over 50 undergraduates in the northeastern U.S., suggest that there is more similarity in their concepts of group difference than scholars have expected. Biology figures in Italians' perceptions of immigrants, despite powerful discourse about color-blindness, and culture cohabits with physical difference in American notions of race despite rhetoric that grounds race in genetics.


Ann Morning is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University and a faculty affiliate of NYU Abu Dhabi.  Her research interests include race, demography, and the sociology of science, especially as they pertain to census classification worldwide and to individuals’ concepts of racial difference. Her doctoral thesis was a co-recipient of the American Sociological Association’s 2005 Dissertation Award, and was published in 2011 by the University of California Press as The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference.  In 2008-09, Prof. Morning was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Milan, and has been awarded a Russell Sage Visiting Scholarship for AY2014-15. She is currently a member of the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.  Morning holds her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University, a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from Yale University.