Issue 3 Contributors


What If We Othered Your Child and You?

Nina Miriam and her husband are raising their three loving, smart children in the DC area. Doing so in a country and community that undermines and devalues them as a Black family is sometimes depleting. Nina Miriam is a pseudonym chosen by the author’s children.

Object to Subject: Three scholars on race, othering, and bearing witness

Abigail A. Sewell is assistant professor of sociology at Emory University and founding director of the Race and Policing Project. Specializing in advancing quantitative approaches to racism studies, they have identified empirical links between the political economy of race and racial health and health care disparities using policing and housing policy data. Their work has been published in a variety of outlets, including Social Science & Medicine, Social Science Research, Sociological Forum, Journal of Urban Health, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Du Bois Review, and the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. Their research has garnered support and recognition from the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. They received their PhD and MA in Sociology from Indiana University, with a minor in Social Science Research Methods, and their BA summa cum laude in Sociology from the University of Florida, with a minor in Women’s Studies.

Wizdom Powell is director of the Health Disparities Institute and associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut. Formerly, Wizdom spent over a decade at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, where she held a tenured appointment in the Department of Health Behavior and was a research associate professor and associate director of the Center for Health Equity Research in the Department of Social Medicine. In 2010, Wizdom gave invited testimony before the President’s Cancer Panel (PCP) on physician communication with minority patients and its impact on their mistrust and use of health care. The PCP used her testimony to recommend national strategies for eliminating cancer disparities to President Barack Obama. In 2011–2012, she was appointed by President Obama to serve as a White House Fellow to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, where she provided subject-matter expertise on military mental health, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and military sexual trauma. Her community-based research focuses on the role of modern racism and gender norms on African American male health outcomes and health care inequities. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, including ones in the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of General Internal Medicine, Behavioral Medicine, and Child Development. She is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Burch Minority Leadership Development Program, Institute of African American Research, Aspen Institute, and the Ford Foundation. She received a PhD and MS in Clinical Psychology and an MPH from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

Erin M. Kerrison is assistant professor at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work extends from a legal epidemiological framework, wherein law and legal institutions operate as social determinants of health. Specifically, through varied agency partnerships, her mixed-method research agenda investigates the impact that compounded structural disadvantage, concentrated poverty, and state supervision have on service delivery, substance abuse, violence, and other health outcomes for individuals and communities marked by criminal justice intervention. Erin’s research has been supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Ford Foundation. Her recent empirical research has been published in Punishment & Society, Social Science & Medicine, Race and Justice, and the Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice. Her current book project is tentatively titled Hustles and Hurdles: Law’s Impact on Desistance for Job-Seeking Former Prisoners and foregrounds life history narratives for a sample of three hundred drug-involved former prisoners. Erin holds a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from Haverford College; an MA in Criminology, Law, and Society from Villanova University; and a PhD in Criminology from the University of Delaware.

Contemporary Cases of Shared Sacred Sites: Forms of Othering or Belonging?

Karen Barkey is professor of sociology and Haas distinguished chair of religious diversity at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago. Karen has been engaged in the comparative and historical study of the state, with special focus on its transformation over time. She has focused on state-society relations, peasant movements, banditry, opposition, and dissent organized around the state. Her work Empire of Difference (Cambridge University Press, 2008) is a comparative study of the flexibility and longevity of imperial systems. Karen is now engaged in different projects on religion and toleration. She has written on the early centuries of Ottoman state toleration and is now exploring different ways of understanding how religious coexistence, toleration, and sharing occurred in different historical sites under Ottoman rule. She edited the book Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Religion, Politics, and Conflict Resolution (with Elazar Barkan) (Columbia University Press, 2014) that explores the history of shared religious spaces in the Balkans, Anatolia, and Palestine/Israel—all three regions once under Ottoman rule.

An Evolutionary Roadmap for Belonging and Co-Liberation

Sonali Sangeeta Balajee was a Senior Fellow in Belonging at the Haas Institute, where she worked closely with the Othering & Belonging conferences, frameworks, and strategies. She is the founder of the Bodhi Project, which promotes emergent practices and actions at the intersection of belonging, organizing, decolonizing, health, and interconnectedness. Her research and activism focus on core frames that elevate the connection between social and spiritual well-being, focusing on artistically embodying the intersection of the ecology of health, belonging and caring, decolonization, and spirituality. She spent thirteen years working in government in Portland, Oregon, innovating and organizing in the areas of health equity, policy and systems shift, and community visioning, contributing to national movement building with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. She is the lead author on Equity and Empowerment Lens, a racial equity tool and process with a racial justice focus, for Multnomah County, Oregon, which was born during her time in local government. Sonali has spent over ten years of direct community organizing in the areas of youth, arts, HIV/AIDS, environmental justice, and political mobilization around racial equity. She serves as a healing practitioner with the W. K. Kellogg Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation initiative and began her study of mindfulness, yoga, and spirituality at an early age. Sonali has twenty years of experience in performance art (dance and music) and has taught yoga in schools and correctional facilities, and has studied the effects of mindfulness and yoga on classroom instruction.

Part and Parcel: Cultivating Survival in the Village of Battir

Sama Alshaibi is an artist of Palestinian-Iraqi origins and a naturalized US citizen. Her artwork explores struggles that arise in the aftermath of war and exile. She is professor and chair of photography, video and imaging at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Sama received the 1885 Distinguished Scholar title in 2013, a visual arts grant by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture in 2017, and was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Fellowship in 2014 as part of a residency at the new Palestine Museum in the West Bank. Her monograph Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In (Aperture, 2015) presents her Silsila series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. Silsila was exhibited at the fifty-fifth Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy, 2013), the Honolulu Biennial (Hawaii, 2017), the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University (New York, 2017), Marta Herford Museum (Herford, Germany, 2017), the Qalandiya International Biennial (Haifa, Israel, 2016), Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (Arizona, 2016), and Ayyam Gallery (Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2015; London, United Kingdom, 2015). Other exhibitions include at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Arab American National Museum (Michigan), Busan Museum of Art (Busan, South Korea), Arab World Institute (Paris, France), and Darat al Funun (Amman, Jordan). Her essays have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War, Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies.

Removing Barriers and Building Bridges: How Play Cultivates Integration and Belonging in Refugee Children

Freya White set up and ran a children’s center in La Liniere refugee camp in France, maintaining a welcoming, safe environment for traumatized children and coordinating a team of volunteers. The experience led to the creation of Refugee Children’s Centres, of which Freya is the founding director. She has a background in education and environmental science. Her main areas of interest are informal education, the impacts of stress and adverse childhood experiences on psychosocial well-being and early childhood development, and the benefits of using play-based intervention to support well-being and development and promote social cohesion. Freya and her team are currently focusing on developing capacity-building partnerships with volunteer-led organizations working with refugee children living in Greece, to strengthen the provision of informal education, early childhood care and development opportunities, and psychosocial support in refugee camps and community centers.

How Technology Could Bridge the Gap of Compassion

Romain Sepehr Vakilitabar is the founder of Pathos, a non-profit virtual reality lab focused on bridging the growing divides in empathy, compassion, and understanding among disparate groups. His interest in mending interpersonal and cultural divides came at an earlier age. After being assigned by his fourth grade teacher to write about “what patriotism means to you” and being reprimanded for taking creativity into his own hands and writing about being “planetotic” instead, Romain first began to wonder what the difference was after all. Through his adventurous experiments, whether backpacking between Israel and Palestine to better understand the long-lasting conflict, spending weeks voluntarily homeless in the streets of Scandinavia to empathize with the idea of “absolute need,” hitchhiking through South America to test the generosity of strangers, or living with conservative rural farmers in Oklahoma to better understand those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, Romain has found that people, no matter how big the differences, are more alike than they imagine. Pathos was created in part to make that case.


Shikeith (Cover and Object and Subject) is an artist and filmmaker from Philadelphia, PA. His work attempts an assemblage of personal truths and wonder that focuses on the metamorphoses of Black men, especially within a society that denies these men their erotic and reconciliatory potential and capital. It is the interior he considers—his own, as well as, other Black men or masculine people through emphasizing portraiture, sculpture, and film-making to examine the fantastic as it relates and complicates personal autobiography and self-making.

Zarina (What if We Othered Your Child and You?) was born in Aligarh, India and currently lives and works in New York. After receiving a degree in mathematics, she went on to study woodblock printing in Bangkok and Tokyo, and intaglio with S. W. Hayter at Atelier-17 in Paris. She has exhibited at numerous venues internationally, including representing India at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and her retrospective exhibition entitled Zarina: Paper Like Skin was presented at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in 2012, and at the Guggenheim, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, London; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Menil Collection, Houston.

Samuel L. Paden (An Evolutionary Roadmap for Belonging and Co-Liberation) was born and raised in Central Africa to an American father and Swedish mother. After many years spent in New York and Reykjavik, Iceland, he now lives in Garden City, Idaho. “I use this diverse background to pursue a simple statement of the self, land, and elements,” said Paden. “My work shifts from the interior energies of abstract figures to the outward forms of landscape. This movement reflects my artistic process and the catalyst for painting.”

Abdul Rahman Katanani (Removing Barriers and Building Bridges: How Play Cultivates Integration and Belonging in Refugee Children) is a young Palestinian artist who was born in 1983, and lived all his life as a refugee in the “Sabra & Shatila camp” in Lebanon. His artistic talents forcefully emerged in his early childhood years when he started to rigorously paint using the painful realities of the refugees’ everyday living in the camp as his subject matter. Hence, his artistic works intensely depict the tragedy of his people, the Palestinian refugees. His works are considered by many as a realistic and vivid portrayal of the hardships, endurance, and persistent spirit of resistance that are the main characteristics of life in the Palestinian refugee camps. Accordingly, his artistic works reflect the often contradictory feelings of suffering and endurance, hopelessness and hopefulness, pain and happiness, along with the nostalgic feelings for a beloved homeland. What makes Abdul-Rahman’s works prominent among others is that in his genuine portrayal of his—and his people’s—feelings as refugees, he utilized the camp’s structural materials of tin and cardboard, rags of old clothes, and old utensils, etc. as his art materials. Abdul Rahman is a truly creative young artist whose works represent dramatic and deeply felt compassions that are motivated by heartfelt experiences and aspirations.

Design & Art Research

Bo-Won Keum is an independent designer in New York, NY. She maintains a studio practice that observes the effects of unyielding systems upheld by various sectors of our social, political, and physical world. Her publication, Dear Books to Prisoners: Letters from the Incarcerated (with Books to Prisoners) has been presented at Brown University, the Maharam Foundation, and Design Indaba. She holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in comparative literature from Princeton University.

Rachel Ossip is a designer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY, and production manager at the n+1 Foundation.


Andrew Grant-Thomas is co-director at EmbraceRace, an online commu­nity of parents, teachers, and other caregivers to children. He is also a race and social justice consultant with a wide range of educational, nonprofit, phil­anthropic, and research institutions. Previously, Andrew has directed work at Proteus Fund, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard Univer­sity, and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, where he was editor-in-chief of its journal, Race/Ethnicity. Andrew earned his BA in Literature from Yale University, his MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and his PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Rachelle Galloway-Popotas is the communications director at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society where she oversees the Institute’s publications, digital media, arts and cultural strategy, press relations, and public engagement. Rachelle has led the development and curation of some of the Institute’s flagship projects including the Othering & Belonging conferences and multimedia journal. Rachelle has worked in the nonprofit communications field for almost twenty years where her speciality has been developing the voice and identity of organizations and building a nimble and responsive infrastructure that amplifies their vision. Rachelle has bachelor degrees in political science and graphic design. She is a tribal member of the Caddo Nation.

Stephen Menendian is the Assistant Director and Director of Research at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society where he oversees the Institute’s research initiatives and projects, including the Inclusiveness Index, fair housing policy and opportunity mapping project, and community engagement. The author of many law review and journal articles, Stephen co-authored the Institute’s amicus brief in the US Supreme Court case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. the Inclusive Communities Project, as well as the Institute’s amicus brief in Fisher v. Texas asking the Court to uphold the University of Texas’ race-conscious admissions policy.