Taking Action: Interrogating Race, Space, and Place for Social Change

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
An RSA Graduate Student Symposium at UW-Milwaukee
contact email: 

The UW-Milwaukee Rhetoric Society of America Chapter is hosting the "Taking Action: Interrogating Race, Space, and Place for Social Change" symposium.

Scholars in rhetorical studies and related disciplines have argued for the construction of race through rhetorics of space/place. While rhetorical scholars have distinguished between place and space, with place being specific and bounded, and space referring to the more general notion of how social practice are regulated by spatial logics, we understand the terms as closely related, co-constituted, and often indistinguishable. Utilizing the space and place as a lens for examining race provides opportunities to explore the processes by which racial difference, inequality, and violence are organized, enacted, and made “explainable.” As rhetorical scholars, we are well equipped to reveal the logics of space and place that profoundly shape our social and material realities that are taken-for-granted and depicted as neutral. 


Situated in the city of Milwaukee, our institution is located within a unique place and connected with a variety of communities that reveal the social/rhetorical links between space/place and race. We recognize that Black communities have historically been marginalized in Milwaukee and the memory of Bronzeville as a place and spirit continues to be significant in the city. There are also other marginalized communities who have been racially discriminated against including Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Southwest Asian communities. Additionally, both the city and the university are on stolen Indigenous lands and Indigenous communities remain present. These and other communities have been shaped by but have also shaped the spaces and places that make up Milwaukee. This situates Milwaukee as an important site in studying race through space/place. We understand the scope of space/place as expansive- ranging from a particular place like a monument, to larger spatial logics regulating and disciplining space and mobility through space in the Midwest.  


Our theme centers on engaging in discussion on the methods, theories, and case studies of space/place and race to uncover interactions and entanglements among research projects and unique insights of individual presentations. We recognize that people engaging in space/place work often exist outside of academia. As such, UW-Milwaukee's graduate student symposium, “Taking Action” urges both scholars and community partners to explore and share their research on the racialization of space and its consequences.As such, we call on scholars to consider a variety of methodological, theoretical, and temporal orientations to the racialization of space/place and how our work as scholars can not only uncover but intervene in the racial logics of space/place through our research. 


Our keynote speaker is Eileen Lagman, Assistant Professor of Composition and Rhetoric in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin Madison with an affiliation with Center for Southeast Asian Studies Department. Her research focuses on ethnographic studies of literacy learning with additional interest in histories of Asian migration, labor economics, and emotion studies. Her current book project Virtual Nationhood: Learning and Loss in Migrant Literacy examines the effects of “brain drain” on literacy education in the Philippines. Her other projects include research on the rhetorics of Asian American disability and an ethnographic project on “outsourced writing” to the Philippines. She received her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Writing Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  


The symposium also features a panel discussion led by the following community leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our intention with the panel is to learn about the transformative work community organizers engage in to enact social change in their local communities. We also hope to forge connections between academic institutions and their surrounding communities, and to help graduate students see how they can utilize their own writing skills for social change through community-engaged work. 


This symposium is intended to be in-person unless the county of Milwaukee or UW-Milwaukee limits the number of guests on campus. In that case, there will be a change in format to virtual, and all accepted proposals will be notified as soon as possible if that were to happen. Given our interdisciplinary and collaborative focus, we would like to extend an open invitation to graduate students across UW-Milwaukee and in the larger RSA graduate student network. We are interested in including a variety of individual, group, and multimodal projects. Please see below for the requirements: 

  • Individual project: Submit a 200-word abstract (please specify your technology requirements in the abstract) 

  • Co-presentations or Panel discussions: Submit a 300–400-word abstract, including details on individual speaker’s project (please specify your technology requirements in the individual abstracts) 

We encourage you to submit proposals that may include but are not limited to the following topics which intersect with or are related to race, space, place, and writing for social change: 

  • Impacts of segregation, redlining, and other discriminatory practices 

  • Consequences of and responses to settler-colonialism 

  • Intersections of gender and/or sexuality 

  • Disabilities studies  

  • Literacy and translingual studies 

  • Public health, medical services 

  • Antiracist pedagogical practices 

  • Rhetorical action towards social change 


Submit an abstract, a summary of work, or a description of work in progress by October 1st, 2022. Applicants will be notified of acceptance via email by October 15th, 2022. Submit here, or follow the URL: https://forms.office.com/r/X23Wv6thC5  


Please contact RSA Co-Chairs Holly Anderson (ande2898@uwm.edu) or Danielle Koepke (koepke13@uwm.edu) with any questions.  


Funding for the 2022 Fall Symposium has been provided by Rhetoric Society of America, the English department’s Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement program, and UWM Student Organizations.