Munroe Center for Social Inquiry

Each academic year, the Ruth and Lee Munroe Center for Social Inquiry continues the pursuit of interdisciplinary learning and public inquiry embodied by the lives and service of two of Pitzer’s most distinguished and beloved professors, the late Robert “Lee” Munroe, research professor of anthropology, and the late Ruth Hagberg Munroe.

2023 Munroe Center for Social Inquiry Director Professor Jesse Lerner

Fall 2023: Apologies, Reparations, and Restitution

“Memories of the World War II Mass Incarceration and Japanese American Redress Activism” – Alice Yang
September 5, 2023 4-5:30 p.m. (PST)

 This talk analyzes the movement to obtain redress for the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Multiple generations of Japanese Americans participated in three campaigns that culminated in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 providing an official apology and individual payments of $20,000 to surviving former incarcerees. This movement reflected the impact of multiracial activism in the 1960s and 70s, pilgrimages to former camp sites, commemorations, and political campaigns to educate the public about the wartime injustice. It examines the role of Japanese American researchers, grassroots activists, and leaders in a class action lawsuit and legislative lobbying efforts. It also explores the legacy of this movement and the ways Japanese Americans continue to invoke the history of the mass incarceration to support other groups seeking redress.

Alice Yang is chair of the History Department at the University of California at Santa Cruz and co-directs the Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories.  She is also the oral history co-director of the Okinawan Memories Initiative. Between 2010 and 2020, she served as provost of Stevenson College at UCSC. Her publications include Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for RedressMajor Problems in Asian American History (co-editor), and What Did the Internment of Japanese Americans Mean? (editor). She has served as a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American History and an advisory board member for the exhibit Then They Came for Me: Japanese American Incarceration during World War II and the Demise of Civil Liberties. Her research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Luce Foundation, and the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.


“The Reparative Conjuncture” – Jovan Scott Lewis
September 12, 2023 4:15-5:30 p.m. (PST)

Our societal present is shaped by the insurgent recognition of antiblackness following the murder of George Floyd. This moment qualifies as a reparative conjuncture where reparations are as feasible as ever. Drawing on my scholarship and work on the CA Reparations Task Force, I examine the possibilities for African American reparations by analyzing the societal and ethical limitations of what kind of reparations this moment can produce and what Black repair should ideally be.

Jovan Scott Lewis Associate Professor and Chair of Geography University of California, Berkeley. From 2021-2023, He was a Governor appointee to the California State Reparations Task Force. He is the author of Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (University of Minnesota Press) and Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa (Duke University Press).

“The Failure to Repair and the Persistence of Genocide” – Henry C. Theriault
September 19, 2023 4:15-5:30 p.m. (PST)

Armenians have been subjected to two historical cases of genocide, the 1894-96 Massacres and the Genocide of Ottoman Christians of 1913-23.  The second of these had especially devastating impacts on Armenians.  The failure to repair has been the major obstacle to achievement of secure viability of the global Armenian community.  This failure has included avoidance by Turkey of a rehabilitative process; quite the opposite, the ideological and structural forces driving the 1913-23 genocide became embedded in the political, military, economic, educational, cultural, and spiritual aspects of the Turkish state and society.  As part of activization of Turkish genocidality in recent years, the eliminationist ideology has been exported to Azerbaijan, with its own history of mass violence against Armenians.  The combination of the significant demographic, resource, identity, security, and social vulnerability of Armenians and the persistence of the impetus to genocide in Turkey and Azerbaijan became deadly in 2020.  The eight-month-old blockade of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh has, in the words of some observers, turned the entire area into a concentration camp.  This talk will examine the harms of genocide a century ago and demonstrate how those harms are central factors in the existential victimization of Armenians today.  It will end on a somewhat more positive note, showing how the analysis given of the Armenian case actually supports the notion that genocide prevention can be accomplished to some extent at least through repair of past genocidal injuries.

Henry C. Theriault is currently Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University in the United States, after teaching in its Philosophy Department from 1998 to 2017.  From 1999 to 2007, he coordinated the University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights.  Theriault’s research focuses on genocide denial, genocide prevention, post-genocide victim-perpetrator relations, reparations, and mass violence against women and girls. He has lectured and appeared on panels around the world.  Since 2007, he has chaired the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group and is lead author of its March 2015 final report, Resolution with Justice. He has published numerous journal articles and chapters, and his work has appeared in English, Spanish, Armenian, Turkish, Russian, French, and Polish.  With Samuel Totten, he co-authored The United Nations Genocide Convention:  An Introduction (University of Toronto Press, 2019).  Theriault served two terms as President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), 2017-2019 and 2019-2021.  He is founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Genocide Studies International. From 2007 to 2012 he served as co-editor of the International Association of Genocide Scholars’ peer-reviewed Genocide Studies and Prevention.


Details coming soon – Kamilah  Moore
October 3, 2023 4:15-5:30 p.m. (PST)

We are excited to invite you to a compelling public talk featuring Kamilah Moore, Chairperson of the California Reparations Task Force. Ms. Moore’s presentation promises to be an enlightening and thought-provoking exploration of the pressing issue of reparations for descendants of slaves in California.
During this engaging conversation, Ms. Moore will delve into the vital topic of reparations, explaining the compelling justifications for providing restitution to descendants of slaves in California. She will also work to dispel common myths surrounding California’s historical role in slavery, shedding light on lesser-known but crucial aspects of our state’s history.
Furthermore, Ms. Moore will discuss specific instances of state-sponsored discrimination that persist as lingering “badges and incidents” of slavery. Her insights will help us better understand the complex web of historical and contemporary factors contributing to racial disparities in our state.As Chairperson of the California Reparations Task Force, Ms. Moore will share insights into the next steps in our journey toward achieving reparations. This will include a discussion of legislative advocacy efforts aimed at turning the vision of reparations into a reality in our state.Preparation:To make the most of this engaging conversation, we encourage you to read the Executive Summary of the California Reparations Task Force’s findings before the public lecture. You can access the summary here: We look forward to your participation in this important dialogue. Together, we can work toward a more equitable and just future for all Californians.

Kamilah Moore is a reparatory justice scholar and an attorney with a specialization in entertainment and intellectual property law. As a law student, Moore contributed to human rights reports related to domestic and international human rights issues, including, but not limited to racial inequality in Brazil, the human right to sanitation in Lowndes County, Alabama, USA; and the human right to remedy for indigenous Black women affected by racialized gender violence in Papua New Guinea.  While studying abroad at the University of Amsterdam, Moore wrote a master thesis exploring the intersections between international law and reparatory justice for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, chattel slavery, and their legacies. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School in New York City, a Master of Laws degree inInternational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Kamilah Moore was appointed to the California Reparations Task Force in 2021.

“Holocaust Restitution: A Moral, Historical, and Political Problem”– Mark Weitzman
October 10, 2023 4:15-5:30 p.m. (PST)

Mark Weitzman is currently Chief Operating Officer of the World Jewish Restitution Organization where he plays a leading role in WJRO’s advocacy and negotiations efforts to recover Jewish properties in Europe, to foster memory of the Holocaust and to counter Holocaust distortion. He was previously Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is a member of the official US delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Authority (IHRA) where he chaired the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and the Working Group on Holocaust Museums and Memorials and spearheaded IHRA’s 2016 adoption of the Working Definition of Antisemitism and he was also the lead author of IHRA’s Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion which was adopted by IHRA in 2013.

Mr. Weitzman has testified in the U.S. Congress, met with world leaders including UN Secretary-Generals Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon and Antonio Guterres and been a featured speaker at three UN conferences on antisemitism and extremism. He was one of the Jewish leaders to meet with Popes Benedict and Francis on their US visits and had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Mr. Weitzman has lectured and presented at international political and scholarly conferences throughout North America, Europe and Israel, as well as in South America, Africa and Australia.

Details coming soon – Charles Cronin
November 7, 2023 4:15-5:30 p.m. (PST)

The aesthetic, emotional, and economic significance of most tangible cultural artifacts is generated primarily by their creators’ application of human intelligence to materials like stone, paint, wood, etc. Digital technologies allow increasingly precise documentation and reproduction of these investments of human intelligence. Accordingly, we can – and should – place greater value on information that we can obtain from these works rather than their initial physical instantiations. 

“In and out of the museum: pre-Hispanic works from market to international collection” –  Mary Miller
November 21, 2023 4:15-5:30 p.m. (PST)

How did works of ancient, pre-Hispanic Mexico first come to the United States?  Who collected them, and why?  In this talk, Mary Miller will focus on the turn mid-20th century from archaeological and anthropological collections and study to those driven by the art market, and to the representation of pre-Hispanic art in departments of art history.  In 1940, when international shipping lanes closed, Earl Stendahl of Hollywood became a major force, bringing pre-Hispanic art of Mexico to national, and later, international attention as art for the home and for the art museum. Fundamental to this research are the Stendahl Art Galleries records now at the Getty Research Institute and the Pre-Hispanic Art Provenance Initiative at Getty, a collaborative project to surface data of both larger practice and of individual works now in art museums world-wide.

Mary Miller is the Director of the Getty Research Institute, where she also leads the Pre-Hispanic Art Provenance Initiative (PHAPI), a systematic study of the 20th century international market for pre-Hispanic art. A specialist in the art of ancient Mexico and the Maya, her numerous publications include The Murals of Bonampak (1986), The Art of Mesoamerica (1986, now in its 6th edition), Maya Art and Architecture (1999, now in a new edition with Megan O’Neil), and The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak (2013). She is Sterling Professor Emeritus in History of Art at Yale University and the recipient of many international and national awards.


“The Weight of a Patina of Time” – Gala Porras-Kim
December 5, 2023 4:15-5:30pm

Gala Porras-Kim received a BA and MA from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Solo exhibitions have been held at Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul; REDCAT, Los Angeles; Fowler Museum, Los Angeles; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla; and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City. Selected group exhibitions have been held at Liverpool Biennale; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Porras-Kim is a recipent of an Art Matters Foundation Grant, Artadila Los Angeles Award, Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, and Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. She has participated in residencies at Getty Research Institute; Delfina Foundation, London; Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge; La Tallera, Proyecto Siquieros, Cuernavaca; Fundació Casa Wabi, Oaxaca; and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.