Academy Workshop – April 2024

“Critical Solidarities: A Comparative Analysis of Organizations Fighting for Black Liberation”
with Naomi Joseph, SNF Agora Student Fellow

Joseph’s dissertation project explores how ethnoracial identity-based organizations (e.g. South Asians 4 Black Lives, Asians 4 Black Lives, Showing Up for Racial Justice) reckon with their own racial positioning. By analyzing organizations’ websites and social media posts, embedding myself in internal meetings and recruitment events, and interviewing leadership to understand how these organizations portray themselves and recruit new members, Joseph’s project explores how organizations persuade activists to act on their ethical commitments, in solidarity with another group. Joseph argues that the ethical commitments of organizations reveal themselves in the rhetorical strategies they use to attract coalitions and solidarity links forged on the stronger ground of shared politics.

Previous scholarship assumes that identities already exist, that identities lead individuals to a particular set of values or moral commitments, and then those individuals join organizations that share their values and moral commitments. This project upends the assumed chain of events. It builds on the work of those who have questioned the idea that identity is modular and static (e.g. Bracey 2016; Gamson 1995), and instead invites us to think about how identities, ethical commitments, and moral standings co-constitute each other in movement spaces. In a broader sense, this project creates the opportunity to expand our understanding of how people find solidarity with each other. It opens the possibility that solidarity need not be grounded in identity and explores how else racialized groups find other people with the same ethical commitments.  Through this project, Joseph opens up an opportunity for a critical solidarity study that investigates not just who calls themselves in solidarity with others, but also investigates the assumptions underlying solidarity. It asks – what does solidarity mean, how is it enacted, and what systems make it possible or impossible?

Join us in the SNF Agora Institute conference room (N325F) in the Wyman Park Building on the JHU Homewood Campus or via Zoom at

This event is limited to JHU faculty, fellows, students, and staff.