April 25, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 14

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    Cohen to direct Center for Study of Race, Politics and Culture

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    Cathy Cohen

    The University has appointed Cathy Cohen, one of the nation’s leading scholars of race, politics and gender, as a Professor in Political Science and Director of the University’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. Cohen is the third American politics specialist to join the University this year.

    Cohen, who is the author of The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics, will succeed Michael Dawson as Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and will begin that appointment Monday, July 1. Dawson announced his departure for Harvard University earlier this year.

    “We’re extremely excited that Cathy is joining us,” said John Brehm, Chairman of Political Science. “Cathy is a rising star and will continue the University’s tradition of groundbreaking research in the study of race and politics.”

    Cohen, currently a Visiting Professor in Political Science and the College, has conducted extensive field research in the city and is expected to establish a closer relationship between the Center and the Hyde Park and South Side communities.

    Cohen comes to Chicago from Yale University, where she received a grant to start Yale’s Center for the Study of Race, Inequality and Politics in May 1995. Since 1993, she has served as an assistant professor of political science and African and African-American studies there.

    Brehm said a hallmark of Cohen’s work, which includes the study of political participation, public opinion, social movements, the politics of AIDS, and black and gender politics, is that “she has dispelled this notion that black culture is monolithic.”

    “In her book The Boundaries of Blackness, she really forces us to move beyond looking at race in terms of a simply black-and-white paradigm,” said Brehm.

    As Director of the Center for Race, Politics and Culture, Cohen said she hopes to increasingly develop the Center’s Latino and Asian studies scholarships. “Understanding the relationship between Latinos and blacks, and Asians and blacks, will become just as important as studying black-white relations,” Brehm said of Cohen’s plans for the Center.

    Cohen joins two other recently appointed American politics specialists. Eric Oliver, an urban politics scholar, formerly of Princeton University, and Jeff Grynaiviski, a specialist in party politics, formerly of Duke University, also accepted positions at Chicago.

    “The appointment of Cohen really establishes Chicago as one of the country’s leading departments for American political studies,” Brehm said.

    Cohen received a B.A. in 1983 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in political science in 1993 from the University of Michigan.