Anti-racism and the Library

The death of George Floyd has led to a worldwide mobilisation against racism. The the initiative Black Conversations and the GISA Graduate Institute Student Association board have compiled an anti-racist reading list, including some resources available in the Graduate Institute library and other libraries in Geneva. Our colleague Catherine Brendow, subject librarian for political science, explains how to access them.

I would first like to remind you that our reading room is open again for Graduate Institute students! You can come from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and go directly to the shelf with the call number 323.14, devoted to racism, to browse our collection. There have been many new purchases recently, thanks to the seminar given this semester by professors Mohamedou and Rodogno, An International History of Racism.

Interested readers can find there the classical work by Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, as well as the French original text, Peau noire, masques blancs. It is also available as an e-book (activate the VPN to access it). The Wretched of the Earth can be found under the 325.8 call number, for anticolonialism, as well as the French original, Les damnés de la terre.

Black feminist books can also be found on our shelves, under the 305.42 (feminism) call number, such as Ain’t I a Women: Black Women and Feminism, by Bell Hooks, or Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, by Patricia Hill Collins.

The library has also some interesting biographies, like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X: a graphic biography, or The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois. The current situation can probably not be really understood without taking into account the “white backlash” in the United States, analyzed for instance in the book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson (we also have the e-book version).

In addition to the library’s resources, let’s also mention Cornell University Press and its Antiracism and Racial Justice e-books collection, available free online until August 31st.

The Graduate Institute library has only very few fiction books and none of the ones mentioned on the reading list. But some of them, like the books by Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize of literature in 1993, are available at the library of the English department of the University of Geneva, and the French translations are sometimes available at the Bibliothèque de Genève. Right now, the libraries of the University of Geneva are unfortunately not accessible for Graduate Institute students, but we hope it will change very soon.

Concerning movies, people who do not subscribe to Netflix will be happy to learn that The 13th, a documentary about mass incarceration in the USA and its racist implications, is temporarily available free on YouTube. Some movies are also available on DVDs at the library, such as I Am Not Your Negro, by Raoul Peck, BlacKkKlansman, by Spike Lee, or Selma, by Ava DuVernay.


If you wish to have the full list of what is/is not available in Genevan libraries, you can access the GISA reading list with Catherine’s annotations. You can also suggest purchases for our collection, and if you have any questions concerning these resources, feel free to contact us at library@graduateinstitute.ch!

Illustration: George Floyd Protest Against Police Brutality in Dallas, CC By-SA 4.0 Matthew T Rader

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