For over a century, officially convened commissions (commonly called "riot" commissions) and the reports they produce have been a standard response to high-profile incidents of racial unrest, protest or tragedy. Despite their prevalence, though, these commissions have largely proved ineffective at securing enduring structural change. Many scholars who have studied riot commissions have concluded that their true purpose is actually not to spur structural change, but the exact opposite: Riot commissions allow government executives to appear to be taking decisive action, without actually having to take any action at all. In this course, we will investigate the peculiar American phenomenon of riot commissions: how they were conceived, why they have not worked as agents of social change, and how they might be reconfigured to become more effective catalysts of racial justice.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM
Topics in American Culture Studies: Commissioned Memories: Racial Unrest and Commission Politics