Mark McPhail to Kick Off Race and Pedagogy National Conference

October 26, 2010

TACOMA, Wash. – Mark McPhail, an inspirational leader and scholar who provided expert witness at the United Nations Rwanda genocide trials, will be the kickoff speaker for the Race and Pedagogy National Conference on Thursday, Oct. 28. Currently dean of the College of Arts and Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, McPhail will open the conference with a public talk at 7 p.m. in Memorial Fieldhouse at University of Puget Sound. Those holding tickets for the previously scheduled lecture by Harry Belafonte will be able to use their tickets for this event. Further ticket information is below.

McPhail will present a talk titled "Where Do We Learn From Here: The Rhetoric and Politics of (Dis)Integration."  He is a leading speaker on the politics of language and oppression, and on the need to roll back the silence that has too often kept in darkness tragedies such as the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in Rwanda, an event he described as “one of the most profound and troubling crises of ethics and public responsibility.”

McPhail, author of Zen in the Art of Rhetoric: An Inquiry into Coherence, has for decades researched the complex integrations between rhetoric and race. He was asked to serve as an expert witness in prosecutions of Rwandan officials at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania after the tragedy.

Since 1983 McPhail has presented numerous papers at national and regional conferences, and published scholarly essays in national and international books and journals. He is also the author of The Rhetoric of Racism Revisited: Reparations or Separation?  

McPhail took his current position at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this summer. Previously he has been on the faculties of Southern Methodist University, Miami University of Ohio, University of Utah, Wayne State University, University of Michigan, and Emerson College.

 His scholarship has been widely published and his creative work has appeared in Dark Horse Magazine and The American Literary Review. He has also exhibited photography in Ohio and Texas.

McPhail has received several awards including the Albert J. Colton Memorial Research Fellowship, University of Utah's Tanner Humanities Fellowship, and the National Communication Association's Karl Wallace Memorial Award.

The Race and Pedagogy National Conference, Oct. 28–30, involves numerous community partners, scholars, educators, artists, and students, locally and from around the country. The conference will extend the discussions about education and race sparked over the last eight years by Puget Sound’s Race and Pedagogy Initiative, which aims to stimulate a transformation of education to ensure an effective and fair experience for people of all backgrounds.

The first conference in 2006 attracted more than 2,000 participants from 39 states, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It also initiated the growth of an array of new educational justice projects at schools, churches, business groups, and other institutions. The Race and Pedagogy Initiative is a collaboration between University of Puget Sound and the South Sound community that educates students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race and to act to eliminate racism.

General admission for the talk by McPhail is $20. Tickets are complimentary for Puget Sound faculty, staff, and students, but must be ordered in advance. Tickets are available from the information desk in Wheelock Student Center or by phoning 253.879.3419. Conference attendees can sign up for tickets on their conference registration forms at

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