decorative image
Bryn Mawr College home page
  Alumnae Bulletin  
  Alumnae Association  
 Admissions Academics Campus Life News and Events Visit Find


Skin color and race

Kudos to Nina Jablonki ’75 for separating out skin color from other racial characteristics, and making legitimate science of it.

Lazier people than Nina need only compare the looks of Siberian people to Indonesians orMediterranean people to Nordics for abundant visual cues that suggest the angle of sunlight received is the operative stimulus for skin pigmentation.

Because “whiteness” still serves as a cognate for assimilation in the United States, there may be great resistance to a renewed examination of where the peoples we currently call Caucasian come from. I hope that Nina’s work and her multidisciplinary interests will impinge on the emerging controversies about the Saraswat civilizations and the so-called Aryan Invasion Theory of Indian civilization, which is increasingly being understood as colonial propaganda.

My children’s friends often remark that Indian people are “white”—not because they tend to be doctors and engineers, but because Indian facial features are similar to those of West Asian and European groups. However, Indians have long known that a few weeks spent in England typically make Indian individuals quite pale in complexion, and a longer stay may give their hair a reddish tint.

Because of that, it has long been my personal belief that the racial group settled across Europe, West Asia and South Asia is especially prone to bleaching while moving away from the Equator, and that the pigment change for this group extends to hair and eyes.

So while the next generation may think of Indians as being white, my conjecturally based hope is that future generations will think of white peopleas Indians.            

— Amrita Ghosh Douglas ’77

Class notes neater?

Having been a reader of the Alumnae Bulletin for a long time (I am part of the class of 1949), I am writing to tell you how impressed I am with the current issues. The Class

Notes have even been neatened up—or something —because they are so much more interesting and well-written these days; I am always so impressed with what our alumnae are doing. It’s fascinating to know what is going on at the College, like Film Studies, since my husband and I are enthusiastic movie-goers.

Wish we could take that course! And the article about Nina Jablonski ’75 and her book, Skin: A Natural History, was fascinating too—maybe because we are both Steven Colbert fans! (Lest you think I indulge only in popular art, I am still a big reader.)

I enjoyed all the Katharine Hepburn coverage in the February issue.

I hope you will print Judith Resnik’s commencement speech in the next issue as I met her once doing alumnae work and was very impressed with her then. I always look forward to the next Bulletin and admire your work and your efforts to collect news of alumnae/i.

Wish I could be at Bryn Mawr in the Berkshires but will be there in spirit.

— Barbara Bettman Allen ’49

Editor’s note: The 2006 Bryn Mawr Convocation address by Judith Resnik ’72, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, may be read here.

Fresh take on Reunion

As interns for the Summer Multimedia Development Institute (SMDI), we didn’t expect to find ourselves so deeply engaged in Reunion Weekend; but as events developed, it was an experience that both changed and enriched our connection to the community.

The SMDI is a summer-long “cyber boot camp” to obtain training in technical skills and to work with campus departments on different projects for the web. A department proposes a web project—like post-Reunion website content or a Virtual Tour of campus—which gets vetted by the Instructional Technology staff. Students apply to be interns for the program, and the accepted projects are matched with the student interns. There are many students working on a variety of projects for different campus departments. The skills we are learning include photo and video editing, website design, and flash video creation. During the course of the project, we meet weekly with a sponsor in the specific department to go over ideas, update status, and get feedback.

Although we were technically only supposed to capture a few images and events for the alumnae project and to gain technology training, the experience proved to be totally engrossing.

During Reunion, we attended a lot of the events. We filmed and edited  video of a panel called “Women’s Health Under Siege” at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research during Reunion Weekend. It was amazing to see how engaged the audience was, and how both the audience and panelists were having fun. Other interns captured the joint 1942 and 2002 panel discussion. We visited Step Sing for a little while (though were also disappointed that it was moved inside), and Amanda took photos of Illumination.

The experience of seeing so many alumnae gathering on the campus was emotionally heartwarming and inspiring. It is surprising to see how many returned for Reunion Weekend and how alumnae, no matter what their age, still share a common bond with Bryn Mawr.

So far, we’ve managed to create an online photo album documenting the weekend; we’ve formatted and edited hours of audio and video so alumnae can revisit some lectures and events; and we’re just beginning a flash movie to be used as promotional piece for Reunion.

When we began this project, we each had some exposure to web programs and design; but halfway through, we feel like we’ve achieved a lot—both in terms of technical training and project development. The SMDI internship has provided the equipment and ability to experiment and learn independently. Working on projects that are really going to be used by College departments is exciting, and has been a lot of fun.

We’ve learned a lot of great skills and met people we probably never would have otherwise.

We’re grateful for this opportunity, and can’t wait for next year’s Reunion. In the meantime, we hope alumnae visit the website to see what we’ve done.

We hope you like it!

—Amanda Cegielski ’09 and Diana Ekman ’09

We welcome letters expressing a range of opinions on issues addressed in the magazine and of interest to the extended community. Letters must be signed in order to be considered for publication. We may edit letters for accuracy, length and civility.


Return to August 2007 Highlights





Bryn Mawr College · 101 North Merion Ave · Bryn Mawr · PA · 19010-2899 · Tel 610-526-5000