Event

Video Viewing Room: “A Diagnostic of Whiteness: The Empathy Conundrum”

On Whiteness

Archived Event

No Longer Showing.

Lauren Berlant, Sadhana Bery, Rizvana Bradley, Jane Caflisch, Lori Gruen, and Saidiya Hartman


Please visit The Kitchen OnScreen to view this page alongside other content from the Video Viewing Room series.



“A Diagnostic of Whiteness: The Empathy Conundrum” was the second panel discussion in the event “On Whiteness: A Symposium” (June 30, 2018). The symposium was presented as part of The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness (June 27–August 3, 2018), a project that also included an exhibition and a series of performances and residencies. 

To learn more about the exhibition portion of On Whiteness, click here to view the exhibition guide.

Section Break

Lauren Berlant is the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at The University of Chicago. Her most recent books are Cruel Optimism, Desire/Love, and, with Lee Edelman, Sex, or the Unbearable. She is currently working on flatter affects like inconvenience and humorlessness. Her forthcoming The Hundreds, written with the anthropologist Kathleen Stewart, is a book of prose works on generative processes of paying attention and receptivity, writing with and beyond the object, and contemporary world-making; she has also co-edited an issue of Critical Inquiry with Sianne Ngai, called Comedy, An Issue.

Sadhana Bery is Director of Africana Studies at Rhode Island College. She has taught courses on white supremacy and whiteness for two decades at HWCUs. She has published on white reenactments of slavery, white pedagogies of slavery, and the entrapments of white supremacist ideologies and epistemologies for Black anti-white supremacy social movements. Her current research includes the continuing habits of whiteness developed in slavery and colonialism in contemporary practices of white supremacy; white global diasporic studies; the relations between Indigenous and Black visions of social justice; and the hauntological constitution of memories and amnesias of slavery.

Rizvana Bradley is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and African-American Studies at Yale. Bradley was a Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Before coming to Yale, Bradley was as an Assistant Professor at Emory University, and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University College London. Bradley is currently at work on two new scholarly book projects. The first is a recipient of a Creative Capital Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and offers a critical examination of the black body across a range of experimental artistic practices that integrate film and other media.

Jane Caflisch is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York. She is a former fellow of the American Psychoanalytic Association, a current fellow of the Melanie Klein Trust, and an incoming psychoanalytic candidate at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She has presented and published on issues related to gender, sexuality, race, whiteness, and reparation(s) from a Kleinian perspective. Her current work examines the internal states and ways of relating interpersonally and politically that can be evoked by white guilt, including breakdowns in thinking and dialogue in the context of facing irreparable debt.

Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University. She is also a professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies. She is the author and editor of eleven books, including Entangled Empathy; Critical Terms for Animal Studiesanimaladies; Ethics and Animals: An Introduction; and Ethics of Captivity. This past spring, she was Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Professor of Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values. She has also taught at Bayview Correctional Facility, a women’s prison in Chelsea, NY (now closed); the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, CT when it was a women’s prison; Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, CT, a maximum security men’s prison; and York Correctional Institution, a woman’s prison. She was also the first chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Center for Prison Education at Wesleyan.

Saidiya Hartman was born and raised in New York City. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. from Yale University. She is the author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America and Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. She has published articles on slavery, the archive, and the city, including “The Terrible Beauty of the Slum,” “Venus in Two Acts” and “The Belly of the World.” She was a Guggenheim Fellow for 2018–2019. She has been a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana, a Whitney Oates Fellow at Princeton University, and a Rockefeller Fellow at Brown University. Her most recent book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, examines the social upheaval and radical transformation of everyday life that took place in the emergent Black ghetto in the early decades of the 20th century.


Image: Still from “A Diagnostic of Whiteness: The Empathy Conundrum,” June 30, 2018 at The Kitchen.


The Video Viewing Room series makes recent video works and archival performance recordings available online for one month at a time. This initiative revives The Kitchen’s longstanding Video Viewing Room—a dedicated space within our buildings from 1975 through the early 1990s. Functioning at first as a resource facility where visitors could watch their own tapes or view videos from The Kitchen’s archive and collection, in fall 1978 the Video Viewing Room began to feature curated programs of artists’ videos. To see a hand-drawn floor plan that shows where the Video Viewing Room was located within The Kitchen’s space at 59 Wooster Street circa 1984, click here.

Video Viewing Room: A Diagnostic of Whiteness: The Empathy Conundrum is made possible with the support of the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust; annual grants from Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation and Howard Gilman Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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