The Race, Place, and Ethnicity Conference

The Race, Ethnicity, and Place (REP) conferences are scholarly biannual meetings that have been organized by several universities in the United States, with the assistance of the 10,000-member Association of American Geographers. Binghamton University (SUNY) in New York, Howard University in Washington, DC, Texas State University, the University of Miami in Florida, the University of Puerto Rico, Texas Christian University and Kent State in Ohio have all hosted the REP Conference. These interdisciplinary conferences are important opportunities for international scholars, professionals from a variety of fields, and graduate students to engage in discussions of timely and critical issues regarding race and ethnicity worldwide and as they are expressed in particular places. In the 15-year history of the REP conferences, presentations and panels have brought together academics and practitioners, government officials and business leaders, and students and the general public in lively, thoughtful exchanges of ideas and information.

Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin will host the REP Conference in 2018, bringing the conference back to Texas. Hosting this international conference emphasizes both universities’ reputation in global academic networks, the high quality of its faculty and students, its leadership in bringing scholars and teachers together to talk about issues of diversity of peoples and ideas, and its strong institutional leadership.

Scope of the REP Conference

The REP Conference has gained a reputation over the years of being a focal point for academic research on issues of race and ethnicity as well as a gathering place of support and solidarity for underrepresented minorities in geography and other related disciplines. The REP has two primary goals: to provide a forum for the exchange of scholarly research on issues of race, place and ethnicity and to promote diversity through the mentorship and support of young scholars from historically underrepresented groups. The conference model of providing extensive support through waiving registration fees and providing travel funding to faculty and graduate students has been key to its past success and requires extensive financial partnerships and support.

The REP Conferences foster dialogue on a range of issues related to the racial and ethnic transformation of places. Scholars and practitioners share their perspectives on recent issues related to globalization, education, health, immigrant experiences, tourism, urbanism, agriculture and foods, landscape and culture, race issues, and community planning as they relate to specific places. The REP Conference encourages interdisciplinary and practitioner perspectives, philosophical and methodological diversity, and professional and student views on such issues. The Conference has rotated its venues throughout the United States, incorporating a regional focus when appropriate, as when the conference was held in Puerto Rico, while maintaining national and international perspectives on race, ethnicity, and place issues.

The success of the 2018 Austin REP Conference, to be held at the Mexican American Cultural Center and co-hosted by Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin, depends on the collaboration and support of many local and regional institutions beyond the sponsoring universities. Public and private agencies involvement and support are necessary to achieve a successful conference. The activities are intense, including two days of professional papers and panels. High profile keynote speakers will share their thoughts at the end of each full conference day, with outreach in collaboration with the City of Austin to involve attendance from members of the local community. We are also collaborating with the City of Austin to incorporate a teen mentoring session and field trips that highlight key sites of ethnic murals, places of racial struggle and contestation, and museums led by local experts.

Reaching Diverse Audiences

University faculty, public officials, business leaders, college students and the Austin community will all benefit from the ideas brought to them by the academic exchange provided during the REP Conference. The REP Conference organizers work tirelessly to provide funding support to waive the registration fees of university faculty and their students who ordinarily could not afford to attend such a conference. The excitement and educational value of faculty and their students visiting with a diverse array of scholars is immeasurable.