Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series: Language Discrimination in Fragile Communities

The Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Language Discrimination in Fragile Communities is organized around four major themes:

  1. Minorities, underrespresented communities and language-based discrimination
  2. Linguistic diversity in education
  3. Multilingualism, immigration and identities
  4. Indigenous and endangered languages

The leaders of this series are Dr. Edna Andrews, Dr. Lee D. Baker, and Dr. Liliana Paredes, all from Duke University. There are also more than 20 faculty fellow from institutions across North Carolina.

The Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series will produce a peer-reviewed volume of articles devoted to the series and a documentary film that will include footage of the speaker series, as well as interviews with the presenters and the participants.

Next Lecture in the Series is:

Thursday, October 8th at 5:30pm via Zoom

Dr. Trina Jones (Jerome M. Culp Professor of Law, Duke Law School) and Jessica Roberts (Director of the Health Law & Policy Institute and the Leonard Childs Professor in Law, University of Houston Law Center)

Genetic Race? An Exploration of Ancestry Testing and Racial Identity


Can genetic tests determine race? Americans are fascinated with DNA ancestry testing services like 23andMe and AncestryDNA. This paper introduces the concept of "genetic race" by considering ways in which DNA ancestry tests may affect contemporary understandings of racial identity. The authors argue that these tests are poor proxies for race because they fail to reflect the defining social, cultural, relational, and experiential norms that form identity. Consequently, the authors strongly caution against defining race in predominantly genetic terms. The paper addresses three separate legal contexts: (1) employment discrimination, 2) race-conscious initiatives, and (3) immigration.

For other lectures please visit: