Wheelchair Accessibility

About this conference

Watch the video recording of this event here:

Panel 1

Panel 2

Panel 3

Panel 3

This conference is to honor the philosopher Charles W. Mills, who taught at the CUNY Graduate Center during the last years of his career, and who passed away on September 20, 2021. Mills’ influence, especially on political philosophy, Black philosophy, and Caribbean philosophy, was monumental, and will undoubtedly have a permanent effect on the interpretation of such figures as Kant and Rawls as well as the way race, racism and colonialism are now seen as necessarily central to any adequate social theory. Mills’ critique of what he called “ideal theory,” his analysis of the epistemologies of ignorance that allow Western societies to function, and his concept of the “racial contract” have expanded our understanding of our current challenges as well as the necessary features of viable solutions.

Originally from Jamaica, Mills published six books and over 100 articles, lectured all over the world, and was elected President of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division. Beyond his philosophical writings, Mills was a tireless mentor, organizer, and activist within the academy. Our illustrious speakers for this event all knew him well—some since his youth. His work has inspired elements of their own. This conference will showcase the expansive field of philosophical work that Mills helped to create.

: This event is being held in-person in Proshansky Auditorium at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave, NY and is wheel-chair accessible. Once you register, you can fill out this CUNYCleared4 form here and we will email you to make sure you have a CUNY Access Pass to enter the building and attend the conference.


This event will also be live-streamed. Click here to join the livestream via Zoom starting Friday at 9:45 AM (EDT).


9:45 a.m
.: Welcome from Linda Martín Alcoff

10:00–11:30 a.m.: Panel 1: Anita Allen-Castellitto and Paul C. Taylor

Anita Allen-Castellitto (Penn), “Art Meets Philosophy: Adrian Piper’s Probable Trust Registry through the Lens of Charles Mills’s The Racial Contract

Paul Taylor (Vanderbilt), “Dedication, Resistance, Refusal, and Embrace: Compassion and The Racial Contract

Moderated by Miranda Fricker

11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m.: Panel 2: Brian Meeks and Olúfẹmi Táíwò

Brian Meeks (Brown), “Mills, 1968 and Caribbean Black Power: Roots and Formations”

Olúfẹmi Táíwò (Cornell), “Doing Philosophy in Nineteenth-Century West Africa”

Moderated by Serene J. Khader

1:15–2:30 p.m.: Lunch

2:30–4:00 p.m.: Student Panel 3: Elvira Basevich, Eric Bayruns-Garcia, Teófilo Reis, Gregory Slack

Elvira Basevich (UMass Lowell), “The Promise and Limit of Kant’s Theory of Justice”

Eric Bayruns Garcia (California State University, San Bernardino), “Charles Mills’s Epistemology and Its Importance for Political Philosophy”

Teófilo Reis (GC), “Charles Mills in Brazil”

Gregory Slack (GC), “Charles W. Mills: Black Radical Liberal or Black Marxist?"

Moderated by Frank M. Kirkland

4:15–6:00 p.m.: Panel 4: Olúfẹmi O. Táíwò, Falguni Sheth, Michael C. Dawson

Olúfẹmi O. Táíwò (Georgetown), “Model-to-World Inference: Responding to Mills’s Critique of Ideal Theory”

Falguni Sheth (Emory), “The Epistemology of Ignorance, Founding Violence, and the Narrative of Self-Defense”

Michael C. Dawson (U Chicago) TBA. For a deeper understanding of Charles Mills' work and ideas, listen to Michael C. Dawson's interview with Charles here: "Celebrating Charles W. Mills, 1951-2021 | Retheorizing (Racial) Justice"

Moderated by Kris Sealey

Click here for the full abstracts for each of the speakers' presentations.

This conference is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), and the PhD Program in Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.




Photo by Sam Alcoff.

Photo by Sam Alcoff.

Photo by Sam Alcoff.