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February 19, 2019 - Kellie Carter Jackson Lecture, Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence

Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College and 19th century historian, Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson, discussed various sections of her new book at length, the central theme of which concerns gaining freedom through violence during slavery and how 'forcing freedom' translates in modern day civil rights. 

August 21, 2018 - Fellows' Orientation

The ARC welcomes 2018-2019 post-doctoral fellows, J. Marlena Edwards (African Studies), Sam C. Tenorio (Comparative Literature and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), and Dara Walker (Richards Civil War Era Center), and dissertation fellows, Aurelie Matheron (Comparative Literature), Mudiwa Pettus (English and African American Studies), and Brandon M. Erby (English and African American Studies).

217 Willard

Noon-1:00 p.m. Orientation 
1:00-2:00 p.m. Orientation Luncheon with mentors/advisors

April 24, 2018 - Fellows' Awards Reception

The Africana Research Center's annual Fellows' Awards Reception in recognition of our 2017-2018 post-doctoral fellows, Alaina Roberts and Neelima Jeychandran, and dissertation fellow, Joshua R. Deckman.

Entertainment will be provided by Urban Fusion.

Nittany Lion Inn Alumni Lounge
3:00-4:30 p.m.

April 21, 2018 - 2nd Annual Symposium of Penn State Pan-African Professional Alliance

PAN-APA 2018 flyer

April 2, 2018 - Food for Thought with Margaret (Molly) Ariotti

Margaret AriottiMargaret (Molly) Ariotti, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, will present "Governments in African Democracies".

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.




March 31, 2018 - Touch of Africa

Touch of Africa 2018

March 26, 2018 - Food for Thought with Alicia Decker, Ph.D.

Alicia DeckerAlicia Decker, Associate Professor of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies and African Studies, will present "Women and the Specter of Militarism: Uganda after Military Rule".

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

March 21, 2018 - "Finding Pleasure in the Work of Graduate Writing" Workshop with David Green, Ph.D.

David Green, Assistant Professor of English, Howard University

217 Willard
3:00-5:00 p.m.

March 17, 2018 - 7th Annual Black Women Rock

Black Women Rock flyer

February 26, 2018 - Food for Thought with Ebony Coletu, Ph.D.

Ebony ColetuEbony Coletu, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies and Affiliate Faculty, Center for Democratic Deliberation, will present "Chief Sam and the Undocumented Origins of African American Migration to Ghana."

217 Willard
12:30-1:30 p.m.

February 24, 2018 - The Origins

Origins flyer

February 22, 2018 - "A Good Day to be Black and Digital:  Praxis and Pitfalls" Workshop with Jessica Johnson, Ph.D.

Jessica JohnsonJessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Center for Africana Studies and Department of History at Johns Hopkins University


216 Willard
2:30-4:00 p.m.

February 15, 2018 - The Barbara Jordan Lecture with Kimberle Crenshaw

Kimberle Crenshaw
Kimberle Crenshaw, Civil Rights Activist and Feminist

"Intersectionality 101: Race & Gender in Work, Life & Politics"

“Intersectionalilty,” a term coined by speaker Kimberlé Crenshaw, calls attention to the multiple forces that create and sustain power and privilege in American society—and contribute to the discrimination and oppression of minority groups. One-dimensional approaches to social justice advocacy continue to divide key constituencies into distant and sometimes competing interests. Nowhere is this division more clearly visible than in discourses surrounding racial and gender bias in the workplace, where one-dimensional approaches often render the experiences of women of color unintelligible.

A leading authority in the area of civil rights, black feminist legal theory, race, racism, and the law, Crenshaw shares her groundbreaking work on "intersectionality" in this fascinating keynote, explaining how our inability to view oppression in society in terms of interrelated categories instead of separate ones—for example, separating gender from racial inequality, instead of merging the two—results in greater oppression for those who stand at the intersection of these categories—such as black women.

111 Forum
6:00-7:30 p.m.

February 12, 2018 - Blaxploitalian:  100 Years of Blackness in Italian Cinema

Blaxploitalian flyer

February 5, 2018 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (Week 3)

9:00-9:45 a.m.

Maisam Alomar, Ph.D. Candidate, Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego

“‘A Double Handicap’: The Racial Politics of “Special Needs” in Contemporary Adoption”

This talk offers an analysis of the racial politics of the "special needs" designation in adoption law, which in practice categorizes all black babies, and in some states other non-white babies within a category that is often used outside of the adoption context as a synonym for “disabled.” We will situate this development within broader political attacks on black motherhood that emerged out of the War on Crime of the 1970s and the War on Drugs of the 1980s in order to address how racialized discourses of debility implicit in the mythical figures of the “crack baby” and the “welfare queen” inform this present-day categorization.

9:45-10:30 a.m.

Nicole Morris Johnson, Ph.D. Candidate, English Literature, Emory University

"Afro-Creole Bodies: Zora Neale Hurston's Liberatory Maps"

Afro-creole spaces have long inspired Black women artists and continue to do so, as evidenced in Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album Lemonade. Arguably, early 20th century artists such as Zora Neale Hurston helped to highlight the appeal of these cultures. Hurston’s early ritual initiations into Haitian Vodou had an undeniable impact on her literary work. While these influences have been thoroughly explored, the presence of other Afro-creole traditions such as the Gullah/Geechee have been less discussed. This talk will explore the ways in which Hurston’s Haitian Vodou initiatory experience shaped her artistic philosophy. I argue that an understanding of this philosophy helps to reveal the presence of additional Afro-creole maps to liberatory ritual practices that Hurston embeds in her work, such as the seekin’ ritual in Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).

10:30-11:15 a.m.

Zebulon York Dingley, Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology and History, University of Chicago

“Rituals of Enclosure and Exposure in South Coast, Kenya”

This talk presents an overview of the scalar levels (person, household, and village) at which suspicions of “witchcraft” are expressed and managed among the Digo and Duruma peoples of Kwale County, Kenya. I argue that these suspicions are mediated by a dialectic of concealment and revelation, in which persistent efforts to expose what others may be hiding are combined with an imperative to hide from others. Suspicion manifests acutely around acts of witchcraft perpetrated by close kin and neighbors, and is addressed through rituals designed to render the surfaces of bodies and houses opaque and impermeable to others. These rituals simultaneously delineate an enclosed and protected interior space against a threatening exterior, and symbolically represent objects and processes at other scalar levels. Further, they involve either the private creation and concealment (or public exposure and destruction) of objects whose materiality, temporality, and scale of operation are closely linked.

216 Willard
9:00 a.m.-Noon

January 29, 2018 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (Week 2)

9:30-10:15 a.m.

Alisha J. Hines, Ph.D. Candidate, History, Duke University

“‘To Make Her Own Bargains with Boats:’ Gender, Labor, and Freedom in the Western Steamboat World”

The talk will first provide a brief overview of my dissertation entitled “Geographies of Freedom: Black Women’s Mobility and the Making of the Western River World.” The dissertation examines how black women engaged the physical geography of the antebellum middle Mississippi River valley as well as the social, legal, and political terrain of the region to pursue freer lives. I will also highlight one chapter of the dissertation which illustrates how black women used river work to earn money, reunite their families, or escape to freedom.

10:15-11:00 a.m.

Dexter J. Gabriel, Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies, University of Connecticut, Storrs (Ph.D., History, 2016, State University of New York, Stony Brook)

“A West Indian Jubilee in America”

On August 1, 1834, the British Abolition Act freed by proclamation 800,000 slaves in the West Indies. In the coming decades, August First became one of the largest abolitionist celebrations in America, commemorating the day as a transnational triumph against slavery. But these annual events did not occur in a vacuum. In newspapers, in pamphlets and books, in broadsides and bulletins and hymns, in poems and art, and numerous print ephemera, abolitionists utilized British Emancipation in their everyday writings, their rhetoric, their discourses and their propaganda against American slavery. My research examines the impact of British Emancipation on American abolitionism and free African-American communities from the 1830s through the American Civil War, and the ways in which debates on what was called the “experiment” of freedom in the British West Indies migrated between the United States, England and the emancipated Caribbean.

11:00-11:45 a.m.

Dara Walker, Ph.D. Candidate, History, Rutgers University 

“‘To teach the true savage history of America’: Black High School Youth and the Making of Education for Liberation in Detroit, 1967-1972”

While black Americans migrated to Detroit with visions of better schools, neighborhoods, and jobs, their offspring encountered racial violence and discrimination that blacks had hoped to escape in the South. During the Black Power movement, the children and grandchildren of these migrants organized school building takeovers and walkouts to resist the Eurocentric high school curriculum and to fight vigorously for their own vision of liberatory education. This research looks beyond the heady moments of desegregation battles to examine the role of liberatory education in the making of black youth politics, and reveals the significance of multigenerational study spaces, which included Black Marxists and Black Nationalists, to this process. It argues that students marshaled their experiences with racist violence and segregation, and the intellectual rigor of Detroit’s black radical tradition to introduce into the curriculum a vision of education that was culturally and politically relevant to their lives as black youth.

216 Willard
9:30-11:45 a.m.

January 22, 2018 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (Week 1)

9:00-9:45 a.m.

Sam Tenorio, Ph.D. Candidate, African American Studies, Northwestern University

“Practices of Black Anarchism”

When witnesses and historians of slavery and the Middle Passage speak of the enslaved jumping ship, they often describe it as a case of madness or mindlessness, resulting from the terrible consequence of horrific conditions, or as a suicide that was antithetical to ‘true’ rebellion. This talk considers the problem of politically conceptualizing practices that challenge the constitutive relationships of the colonial racial order but run counter to the dominant definition of political opposition. Thinking through the unrecognizability of black anarchism, Tenorio will move to shift our conceptual frames away from formal politics and consider the practices that enunciate the limits of our political understandings while offering a glimpse at the antagonism of black anarchist protest to the Western liberal tradition.  

9:45-10:30 a.m.

J. Marlena Edwards, Ph.D. Candidate, African American & African Studies and History, Michigan State University

"West Indian and Cape Verdean Community Practices and Transnational Strategies in Early Twentieth Century New England"

According to Sociologist Roy Simon Bryce-Laporte, Black immigrants “suffer double invisibility in fact as blacks and as black foreigners.”  Though approximately 145,000 African-descended people voluntarily migrated to the United States between 1899 and 1936, African and Caribbean immigrants are underrepresented in American and African American historical scholarship. Employing a community level study of residential enclaves in New England, this presentation engages the strategies of West Indian and Cape Verdean immigrants in New Bedford and Providence as they reformatted community networks, created ethnic-based organizations, and established transnational institutions that maintained connections with their homeland. The community-level micro study provides valuable insight into the ways these African-descended communities, as neighbors, experienced and adapted to their diaspora condition differently. While West Indians altered their community landscape and eventually assimilated into the African American community, Cape Verdeans retained a Cape Verdean ethnic identity bolstered by their transnational shipping fleet and the constant flow of people, goods, and ideas from the homeland. This presentation is part of my dissertation entitled, “To Do Credit to My Nation, Wherever I Go”: West Indian and Cape Verdean Immigrants in New England, 1890-1940. 

216 Willard
9:00-10:30 a.m.

December 8, 2017 - Black Men on the Rise

Black Men on the Rise






December 8, 2017 - Neelima Jeychandran's Manuscript Workshop

Beheroze Shroff, Lecturer, University of California, Irvine, and Mark Auslander, Museum Director, Michigan State University

217 Willard
2:00-4:00 p.m.

December 7, 2017 - 9th Annual Ashe Awards

Ashe Awards flyer



November 13, 2017 - Food for Thought with B. Stephen Carpenter II, Ph.D.

Steve Carpenter

B. Stephen Carpenter, Professor of Art Education and African American Studies, will present, "African Diaspora Water Curriculum Project: Stories, Collaborations, and Possibilities".

217 Willard
12:15-1:15 p.m.

November 7, 2017 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Albert Sachs

Albert Sachs

Albert Sachs, Freedom Fighter Against Apartheid, and Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa (Ret.) 1994-2009

"The Triumph of Humanity and Social Justice"

As a young law student Albie Sachs would visit the office of Mandela and Tambo, the only black firm of attorneys in apartheid South Africa. Within a decade, Mandela was to lead resistance in South Africa and on his capture be sentenced to life imprisonment. Meanwhile, Tambo was sent abroad to organise international opposition to apartheid. Albie Sachs will describe working with Tambo in exile preparing for a new non-racial democratic Constitution, being blown up by a bomb placed in his car by South African security agents; then when Mandela was released, working with Mandela on the drafting of the Constitution and ultimately being appointed by Mandela to be a Justice on South Africa’s top Court.

A book signing will follow the presentation.

Watch a film about Albie Sachs called Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa by visiting this link:

Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
6:00-7:00 p.m.

November 7, 2017 - "Building a Constitutional Court on the Ashes of Apartheid" with Albert Sachs

Albert SachsAppointed by Nelson Mandela to South Africa’s first Constitutional Court, Albie Sachs will describe why the court decided to locate its new building in the heart of the Old Fort Prison where both Gandhi and Mandela had been locked up; how the court invented itself as an institution; and how it decided pathbreaking cases on capital punishment, rights of women under customary law, the enforcement of social and economic rights, same-sex marriage, and restorative justice.

A book signing and reception will follow the presentation.

Sutliff Auditorium, 118 Lewis Katz Bldg.
12:30-1:45 p.m.

November 4, 2017 - "The Joke is Mightier Than the Sword" with Bassem Youssef

Youssef flyer

November 3, 2017 - Race in the Americas Conference - "Space/Place/Race: Geography and Power in the Americas"

The Second Biennial Race in the Americas (RITA) Conference will be held November 3-4 at University Park. The plenary speaker, Micol Seigel (Indiana University), will be giving a presentation titled “Always Already Military: Police, Public Safety, and State Violence”. This talk is open to the public.

Is “militarization” the source of some of the horrific police violence the U.S. has suffered in recent years?  This question can be answered in the affirmative only if one restricts the analysis to violence within U.S. borders.  A transnational perspective on U.S. state violence provides a different picture of the relationship between the military and the police.  Drawing from my forthcoming Violence Work:  State Power and the Limits of Police, this talk explores the history of the Office of Public Safety, a U.S. federal body created to train foreign police in the mid-Cold War.  This globe-trotting police agency shows that while American police are certainly influenced and changed by contact with the U.S. armed forces, the relationship is less one-way influence than a process of constant and mutual exchange enhancing the lethality of both.  The concept of “militarization” requires a U.S. nationalist preoccupation with domestic, ultimately ceding the ground on which to oppose not only U.S. empire and military action abroad but also the unexceptional racist brutality of police at home.

RITA 2017 is a graduate student conference organized by the graduate students of the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, and sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the Latinx Studies Program, the Africana Research Center, and the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

102 Oak Building
12:00 p.m.

October 28, 2017 - Undergraduate Research Exhibition 2017

The Africana Research Center will host an Undergraduate Research Exhibition in recognition of undergraduate students who have conducted outstanding research on issues affecting the African Diaspora.  The public is invited to attend the presentations from 11 a.m. to noon. 

2017 ARC Scholars

Humood Alanzi --

“A Review of the Negritude Movement and its Role in the African Liberation”

Brian Davis --

“The Evolution of Slavery and Freedom from the 17th Century to Emancipation”

Maia A. Hill --

“Our Education System Needs a Fixing:  The Effects of Ineffectively Financing Education in Urban Communities”

Elizabeth Hopta --

“Stokeley Carmichael:  Dialectic Terms Shaping Whiteness at Berkeley”

Christiana Nisbet --

“Economic Influence”

Lydia Strawser --

“The Role of Religion in the Traditional Healing Practices of the Himba Ethnic Group of Namibia”

Seamus Wagner --

“Language Policy in Education:  Tanzania's Use of Swahili and English”

Xiaoji Zhou --

“How Traditional Mural Art Reveals the Present”

Nittany Lion Inn Alumni Ballroom AB
10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

October 18, 2017 - "How to Submit a Manuscript to a University Press" Workshop

Chuck GrenchChuck Grench, Executive Editor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Press

"How to Submit a Manuscript to a University Press"

217 Willard
10:00 a.m.-Noon

October 16, 2017 - Food for Thought with Jenna Christian

Jenna ChristianJenna Christian, dual-degree doctoral candidate in Geography and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, will present "A Geopolitics of Youth:  Race, Citizenship, and a School-to-Military Pipeline in Houston, Texas".

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

September 20, 2017 - "Issues Confronting African Americans in the Academy" Workshop

Keith GilyardKeith Gilyard, Senior Faculty Mentor, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and African American Studies

"Issues Confronting African Americans in the Academy"

217 Willard
Noon-1:30 p.m.

September 12, 2017 - "How to Submit a Journal Article" Workshop

Bill BlairBill Blair, Director, George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, and Walter L. and Helen P. Ferree Professor of Middle American History

"How to Submit a Journal Article"

217 Willard
3:00-5:00 p.m.

September 11, 2017 - Food for Thought with Carla Pratt, Ph.D.

Carla PrattCarla Pratt, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Educational Equity and Nancy J. LaMont Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law, will present "Using Social Dominance Theory to Understand Why Anti-Discrimination Law Fails to Achieve Racial Equality".

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

August 21, 2017 - ARC Post-Doctoral and Dissertation Fellows' Orientation and Luncheon

The ARC welcomes 2017-2018 post-doctoral fellows, Neelima Jeychandran and Alaina Roberts, and dissertation fellow, Joshua R. Deckman.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m. Orientation
1:00-2:00 p.m. Orientation Luncheon with mentors/advisors