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December 6, 2014 - Kwanzaa Extravaganza

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Co-sponsored by: Africana Research Center.

December 5, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Portia K. Maultsby, Ph.D.

December 5, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Portia K. Maultsby, Ph.D..jpg

Portia K. Maultsby, Laura Boulton Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology, Professor Emerita of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University

"Is It African American or American: Reframing the Critique of Black Popular Music"

The critique of Black Popular music traditionally has derived from the music's production as a mediated commodity for mass dissemination, which de-emphasizes the role of Black culture in shaping the character and function of this tradition.  Referencing selected genres, my presentation will examine Black music as social process-the lived experience that embodies Black social practices and cultural values.  It also will consider the changes that occur in the marketing and representation of this tradition when it enters the commodity system for mainstream consumption.

216 Willard
10:00-11:00 a.m.

December 1-2, 2014 - Theorizing Gender and Islam  Conference

December 1:

9:00am-5:00pm, 216 Willard Building, Papers presented by speakers

7:00pm, Nittany Lion Inn, Alumni Lounge, Panel Discussion

December 2:

9:00am-5:00pm, 216 Willard Building, Papers presented by speakers

7:00pm, Nittany Lion Inn, Alumni Lounge, Dr. Sa’diyya Shaikh, Conference Keynote Speaker and The Harshbarger Lecturer in  Religious Studies in the History Department

The conference on “Theorizing Gender and Islam” aims to advance feminist theory and methodology about Muslim women’s and men’s experiences, subjectivities and narratives, and to develop a research community between feminist scholars, Religious Studies scholars, Islamic feminists and those from cognate areas. The conference seeks to bring together critical scholars from Women’s Studies, Religious Studies, Legal Studies, Psychology, African Literature and Sociology as well as creative artists in a vivid exchange that will address a new and complex set of realities. We anticipate a set of invigorating debates that engage rich and complex representations and forms of human subjectivity.

The analytical category of “experience” in feminist theory has importantly destabilized universalist claims about knowledge and revealed the gendered subject of knowledge production. Feminist theorists have examined the diversity of experiences of the everyday, as informed by complex and dynamic cultural, religious, and socio-political locations, inscribed as well by race, sex, class and age. Reflecting on this notion of “theorizing experience” from a feminist standpoint, the conference plans to enable fruitful conversations between feminist scholars and scholars of gender and Islam.

The context of the conference on gender and Islam and the everyday is the wealth of debate around ideas of the ordinary and intimate in the Humanities, law, the media, academia, the state, social movements and creative arts. Scholars such as Lauren Berlant and Njabulo Ndebele have written influential work about “intimate” and “ordinary” lives as counter-narratives to metanarratives of resistance and oppression. Feminists in a range of disciplines, such as history, literary studies, sociology and anthropology, have developed sophisticated theoretical tools that have deepened our understanding of the entangled roles of gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, class and religion in the texture of “ordinary life”.

Building on the epistemological significance of experience, we envision that the conference will enable the theorization of lived Islam in transnational settings. Examining the various ways in which experiences are constituted through the localized and situated politics of gender, race and sexuality, we anticipate rich critical engagements with meaning making in the everyday life of believers as well as with questions of social justice in individual and collective, intimate and social relationships and encounters. We are convinced that insights gleaned from specific contexts such as the US can speak to related theoretical developments in post- colonial and other contexts and vice versa.

The notion of subjectivity in poststructuralist feminist work is conceptualized as fluid and in a constant process of becoming and consequently subjectivity is theorized by feminists as relationally and socially produced through diverse encounters between the self and other. Furthermore, the enactment of different subject positions, complexly entangled within an individual subject, is intrinsically related to available scripts of gendered, racialized and sexual expressions. Reflecting on non-essentialist dynamic configurations of the human subject, we envisage this conference as addressing a number of questions in relation to theorizing subjectivity in studies of gender and Islam. For example, how are multi-layered subjectivities constituted through diverse understandings of Islam? What are the ways in which Islamic discourses inform individual and social expressions of gender and sexuality? And also, in what ways do intimate, interpersonal, social and political performances reflect the elasticity of Muslim subjectivities? The ways in which subjectivity is expressed and performed are also related to relations of power that are played out in contested and intersecting public and private domains.

Presenters include:

Rumee Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Islamic Law, University of British Columbia

Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion, Boston University

Gabeba Baderoon, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and African Studies, Penn State University

Sarah Bracke, Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Sociology of Religion and Women’s Studies in Religion Program Research Associate, Harvard University

Ayesha Chaudhry, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies, University of British Columbia

Huma Dar, Lecturer, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, University of California at Berkeley

Nina Hoel, Postdoctoral Fellow of Anthropology, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Jamillah Karim, Independent Scholar

Fatima Seedat, Postdoctoral Fellow, Religious Studies, University of Cape Town

Sa’diyya Shaikh, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town

Amina Wadud, Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Farah Zeb, Doctoral Candidate, Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies,University of Exeter

Co-sponsored by: Africana Research Center (ARC), The African Studies Program, The Center for Global Studies/School of Languages and Literature, College of the Liberal Arts Research and Graduate Studies Office, The Harshbarger Lecture in Religious Studies in the History Department, The Institute for the Arts and Humanities (IAH), The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally (LGBTA) Student Resource Center, Penn State Society for the Study of Religion, The Rock Ethics Institute, and the Women's Studies Department.

November 17, 2014 - Stereomodernism: Sounding Out Africa's Place in Diaspora Studies with Tsitsi Jaji, Ph.D.

November 17, 2014 - Stereomodernism Sounding Out Africa's Place in Diaspora Studies with Tsitsi Jaji, Ph.D..jpg

Tsitsi Jaji, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

This talk proposes that “stereomodernism” shaped African engagements with African American music and its representations in the long twentieth century. African American popular music appealed to continental Africans as a unit of cultural prestige, a site of pleasure, and an expressive form already encoded with strategies of creative resistance to racial hegemony. Ghana, Senegal and South Africa are considered as three distinctive sites where longstanding pan-African political and cultural affiliations gave expression to transnational black solidarity. Attentive to the media forms through which music was transmitted and interpreted, stereomodernism accounts for cultural practices that enabled pan-African solidarities.

Tsitsi Jaji is an assistant professor of English and an affiliated faculty member of Africana Studies, and Gender, Sexuality  and Women’s Studies at University of Pennsylvania. She teaches courses on African  and Diasporic poetry, music, satire, and literatures of the city. Originally from Zimbabwe, Jaji conducted archival research for her first book, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford UP, 2014) in Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and France. The book analyzes the impact of African American popular music on African ideas of modernity and solidarity. Jaji's chapbook, Carnaval, was published by the African Poetry Book Fund this year, and her poetry has previously appeared in Bitter Oleander, Runes, Center for Book Arts Broadsides Series, InTensions e-journal and on the Poetry International Zimbabwe website.

124 Sparks
4:15 p.m.

Co-sponsored by the Africana Research Center, the Department of African American Studies, and the Department of Comparative Literature.

November 10, 2014 - Luncheon Series with Lawrence Houston III

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Lawrence Houston III, Graduate Student, Industrial and Organizational Psychology

"Organizational Entry: A New Perspective on Self-Presentations and the Socialization of Racial Minorities"

A great deal of research has focused on the recruitment and selection of racial minorities, but comparatively little research has examined how status characteristics may impact the socialization of diverse newcomers. This is unfortunate because socialization is one of the key determinants of whether new hires meet performance expectations and remain with the organization. To facilitate successful socialization, newcomers actively enact self-presentational behaviors to share information about (or image of) the self to reduce any uncertainty regarding their competence and personal characteristics when interacting with key socialization agents. In doing so, newcomers are able foster positive relationships with senior coworkers and access task-related knowledge and resources embedded in newcomer-oldtimer interactions. I develop and test a theoretical model outlining how newcomer race and self-presentations interactively influences adjustment-related outcomes through interpersonal and intrapersonal processes. The model identifies contextual factors that may mitigate the interactive effects of newcomer race and self-presentations on newcomer adjustment. Implications of the study and directions for future research will be discussed.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

November 10, 2014 - Miss Africa PSU 2014 Pageant

The Miss Africa PSU pageant is held annually by the African Students Association.
Heritage Hall - HUB
6:00-10:00 p.m.
Co-sponsored by African Students Association, Paul Robeson Cultural Center, UPUA, and Africana Research Center.

November 7, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Joy James, Ph.D.

November 7, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Joy James, Ph.D..JPG

Joy James, is F.C. Oakley Chair at Williams College where she teaches in the Humanities and Political Science. James is a board member of CONNECT, a Harlem-based nonprofit that works to end domestic and social violence. Her most recent book is "Seeking the Beloved Community".


“The Political Function of Black Maternal Captivity and the Sci-Fi Family”

This talk examines historical and contemporary black mothering as a political response to captivity, disenfranchisement, and violence. Working through the lens of writer Octavia Butler, and historical and contemporary legislation dictating family structure and stability, I argue that prevailing social attitudes express sexual-racial animus against the creativity and oppositional politics of black mothering. I view black mothering as a form of political action, an endeavor that occurs within the home and within social movements. The icon or stereotype of the black maternal coexists with the activism of ideologically diverse black mothering, and the utopian and dystopian battles of the "Sci-Fi Family" in which blacks serve as synonym for  aliens.  The black maternal, mothering, embattled family, all have functions that shape the values and politics of the greater democracy.

216 Willard
10:00-11:00 a.m.

Fellows' Workshop:
"The Political Function of Black Maternal Captivity and the Sci-Fi Family"
217 Willard
8:00-9:30 a.m.

November 5, 2014 - Conversation with Mia McKenzie

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November 5, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Jack Selzer, Ph.D.
"Art of the Deal"
217 Willard

10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

October 31, 2014 - Diaspora Studies Workshop with Keisha Blain, Ph.D.

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October 23, 2014 - The Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry presents Marilyn Nelson

October 23, 2014 - The Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry presents Marilyn Nelson.jpgMarilyn Nelson is a three-time finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Newbery and Coretta Scott King awards. She is the author or translator of fifteen poetry books for adults and children and five chapbooks. In 2013 she published a memoir entitled How I Discovered Poetry—a series of 50 poems about growing up in the 1950s in a military family.

Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
7:30-9:00 p.m.

The Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry is made possible through the generosity and courtesy of Penn State alumni George and Barbara Kelly. Additional support for the event comes from the Mary E. Rolling Endowment, the Penn State Department of English, Africana Research Center, the Department of African American Studies, the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment, the Institute for Arts and Humanities, the Paterno Fellows Program, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the University Libraries, and the College of the Liberal Arts.

October 18, 2014 - Black Beauty Colloquium

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Keynote speaker: Maxine Craig, Professor and Director, Women and Gender Studies, University of California, Davis.

Nittany Lion Inn, Faculty Staff Club

11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

More details about the colloquium will be announced.

Co-sponsored by the Africana Research Center, the African American Studies Department, Penn State National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Penn State National Council of Negro Women.

October 17, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Carol Anderson, Ph.D.

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Carol Anderson, Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, Emory University

"Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960"

We know the story.  Historians have told it for more than forty years.  After the onset of the Cold War, fierce anticolonialism emanated solely out of the black left, which paid dearly for opposing U.S. imperial policy.  Paul and Eslanda Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, W. Alphaeus Hunton, and even, in his own twisted way, Max Yergan came up against the Leviathan of the Red Scare and lost. Meanwhile African American liberals, such as the NAACP, turned their backs on Asians and Africans determined to be free, colluded with the Truman administration’s support of European empires, and received, in return a few pieces of civil rights tokens.  We know the story.  It’s just not true.

216 Willard
10:00-11:00 a.m.

Fellows' Workshop:
"Writing, Researching, and Thinking Transnationally"
217 Willard
11:00 a.m.-Noon

October 14, 2014 - Americanah Book Discussion presented by Keisha N. Blain, Ph.D.

October 14, 2014 - Americanah Book Discussion presented by Keisha N. Blain, Ph.D..jpg
Keisha N. Blain is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Africana Research Center (ARC) and in the Department of African American Studies. She completed a B.A. in History and Africana Studies from Binghamton University (SUNY) and a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. She is currently writing a book entitled, Contesting the Global Color Line: Black Women, Radical Politics, and the Gendered Contours of Internationalism.

"Americanah and Transnational Black Identities"

217 Willard
4:00-5:00 p.m.

Please join Keisha N. Blain for a discussion of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah through the lens of ‘black internationalism.’ The discussion will explore the themes of race, ethnicity, and nationality as central components in the development of transnational black identities. Open to all undergraduate students.

October 9, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Kit Hume, Ph.D.
"Writing for Publication:  The Peer-Reviewed Essay"
217 Willard

10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

October 9, 2014 - 50th Anniversary Commemorating the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Civil rights leader Rev. Jim Lawson will be speaking on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on Thursday, October 9, 7:00 p.m., Room 101, Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building.

A supporter of the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolent protest, the Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr. was one of the Civil Rights Movementʹs leading theoreticians and tacticians in the African American struggle for freedom and equality in the 1950s and 1960s.

Rev. Lawson helped coordinate the Freedom Rides in 1961 and the Meredith March in 1966, and while working as a pastor at the Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis, played a major role in the sanitation workers strike of 1968. On the eve of his assassination, Martin Luther King called Lawson "the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world."

The event, sponsored by the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), We The People Challenge Grant, Rock Ethics Institute, Africana Research Center, and Penn State University Libraries, is free and open to the public.

If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please consult with the Richards Center at (814) 863‐0151 or in advance of your participation or visit.

October 7, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Joycelyn K. Moody, Ph.D.

October 7, 2014 - Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Joycelyn K. Moody, Ph.D..jpg

Joycelyn K. Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature; Director, African American Literatures and Cultures Institute, The University of Texas at San Antonio, and former editor of African American Review

"Some Nuts & Bolts for Submitting Scholarly Articles"

217 Willard
11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

October 6, 2014 - Luncheon Series with Sylvia Owiny

Sylvia Owiny, Social Sciences Librarian, University Libraries

"Survey of Libraries in Lango Sub-region, Uganda: A Sabbatical Report"

“A true African library would be one into which Africans and others could walk in order to experience the realities of the African world view…” (Cram 15)

The purpose of the survey was to document the state of libraries in the Lango Sub-region and explore how libraries are viewed at different levels by different populations. The results of the survey revealed disconnect between libraries and communities in the sub-region. Are western model of libraries meeting the information and knowledge needs of these communities?

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

October 4, 2014 - Undergraduate Research Exhibition

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.
Briana Adams - Thurgood Marshall’s “State of the Negro Address” - FIRST PLACE
Alexis Bascombe - Michelle Obama:  Standing Up in a Crooked Room
Jonathan Callan - Designing Sustainable Revenue Models for CHW-Centric Entrepreneurial Ventures
Matt Crager - “The Clock Will Not Be Turned Back”: A Rhetorical Analysis
Ariana De Reus - Achieving Water Security in Senegal: Rural and Urban Water Access and Sanitation Challenges - 2ND PLACE
Brooke Durham - “He” and “I”: Hybrid Identity in Mouloud Feraoun’s “Le Fils du pauvre”
Bronson Ford - Julian Bond on “Meet the Press”
Kira Hydock - A Comparison of Zulu and Rwandan Basketry Past and Present
Ebony Martin - Becoming American: The Ethnic Juxtaposition of African Women in America
Anne Maucieri - The Personal Consequences of Mythical Democracy: Black Female Citizenship - 3RD PLACE
Rhoda Moise - Quantity Versus Quality:  Exploring the Roles of Afterschool Participation and Connectedness to Youth Problem Behavior
Jacob Shevrin - The Forgotten Foundations of Mathematics in Ancient Africa
Emily Spera - Endangered African Wild Dogs: The Influence of Spotted Hyaena in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Grace Warkulwiz - Importance of Interactive Small Group Discussions to Educate Community Health Workers
Keynote address by Iyunolu Folayan Osagie, Ph.D.
Nittany Lion Inn, Faculty Staff Club Room
10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

September 29, 2014 - Comp Lit Luncheon Series: Same-Sex Intimacies in an Early Modern African Text about an Ethiopian Female Saint, Gadla Walatta Petros (1672) with Wendy Belcher

Wendy Belcher, Princeton University, is associate professor of African literature in Princeton University’s Department of Comparative Literature and Center for African American Studies. She has been studying African literature for over two decades and is now working to bring attention to early African literature through her research and translation. She also studies how African thought has informed a global traffic of invention, recently publishing Abyssinia’s Samuel Johnson: English Thought in the Making of an English Author (Oxford, 2012) and is finalizing the translation of The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros: A Translation of a Seventeenth-Century African Biography of an African Woman with Michael Kleiner, which is perhaps the earliest biography of an African woman.

12:15-1:20 p.m.
102 Kern Building

For more information on the Comp Lit Luncheon Series, visit:

Co-sponsored by Africana Research Center.

September 24, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Former fellows Gabeba Baderoon and Kathryn Gines will meet with current fellows
"Managing the Transition to Junior Faculty"
217 Willard

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

September 17, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Christopher Long, Ph.D., and Kate Miffitt, Ph.D.
"Digital Research"
217 Willard

10:00-11:30 a.m.

September 11, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Kit Hume, Ph.D.
"The Academic Job Hunt"
217 Willard

9:00 a.m.-noon

September 10, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Linda Selzer, Ph.D.
"Teaching Philosophies:  Samples & General Principles"
217 Willard

10:00-11:30 a.m.

September 8, 2014 - Luncheon Series with Ariane Cruz, Ph.D.

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Ariane Cruz, Assistant Professor, Department of Women's Studies

"Pornography’s Play(ing) of Race"

This talk explores black women’s diverse performance of race play in contemporary American pornography.  From performances of black female submission staged as a historical reenactment of chattel slavery in hardcore mainstream race play pornography to amateur Internet race play pornography, I unveil pornography as a dynamic site for the performance of race play.  Pornographic performances of race play exhibit an unfaltering racial hyperbole and eroticization of black female racial sexual alterity despite the shifting racial and gender dynamics of production, veering positions of domination and submission, and amateur versus high budget production status.  I reveal race play as a comprehensive performance with a more universal socio-cultural currency and relevance, illuminating a critical tension in race play to be that between the quotidian and the spectacular, the pornographic and the mainstream.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

September 3, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

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Charles Grench, Assistant Director and Senior Editor at UNC Press
"Basic Elements of a Good Book Proposal"

Kendra Boileau, Editor in Chief at Penn State University Press
"What Academic Editors Want:  An Insider's View on How to Submit a Book Proposal"

217 Willard
10:00-noon (Individual 15-20 minute session with fellows followed by Q&A)

August 27, 2014 - ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow Orientation and Luncheon

The ARC welcomes 2014-2015 post-doctoral fellows Jaime Alves, Keisha N. Blain, Cynthia R. Greenlee, Surya Parekh and Anyabwile Aaron Love.
217 Willard
10:30 a.m.-noon Orientation
Noon-1:00 p.m. Luncheon with mentors

August 27, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Chas Brua, Ph.D., and Larkin Hood, Ph.D.
"Schreyer Institute"
217 Willard

1:15-1:45 p.m.

May 1, 2014 - ARC Annual Fellows' Recognition & Awards Program

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The Africana Research Center's annual ARC Awards in recognition of our 2013-2014 ARC Fellows, AnneMarie Mingo, Michael Woldemariam, Sasha Turner, Moya Bailey, Surya Parekh and Antwain Hunter.  Entertainment will be provided by Urban Fusion.

Nittany Lion Inn, Alumni Lounge
3:30-5:00 p.m.

April 16, 2014 - Antwain K. Hunter Public Lecture

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Antwain K. Hunter, ARC Dissertation Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History

"'…they commit numberless depredations upon the farms by killing stock of every description': Armed Black People’s Mobility and the threat to White People’s Property in the Antebellum Era"

The issue of antebellum African-descended people’s access to and use of firearms has been understudied to date. The bulk of the current scholarship focuses on the role of hunting in slave communities, black people's historic access to guns under the larger Second Amendment rights debate, or has otherwise given the issue only cursory attention in larger studies of rebellion, community, etc. These projects -- most of which make otherwise solid contributions -- have not fully explored black gun use in a slave society. As a result, they have missed important dimensions of the master-slave relationship, the relationship between the government and white slaveholders’ mastery, and how firearms impacted the ways that black and white people understood black manhood.

At its core, the historical problem of Southern black gun use is centered on the state’s balancing act between harnessing the valuable labor that armed black people provided and guarding against the threat that they were perceived to hold. Armed black people could feed themselves, and if enslaved, feed their slaveholder and protect his or her crops and property but some white North Carolinians were concerned that they might also commit violent crimes against white people or hunt their livestock.

I argue that while the specter of armed black North Carolinians was a source of anxiety for many of the state’s white population, African-descended people were often perceived to pose a greater threat to white people’s property than to their lives. This paper will use white North Carolinians’ understanding of black gun use to argue that despite the backdrop of deadly slave rebellions and plots in neighboring states and the fearful rhetoric at home, many white people were more consistently worried about the loss of their property than they were afraid for their lives. Additionally, this paper will outline white people’s perceptions of armed black North Carolinians and the complexities of interracial relationships in the antebellum period, thereby shedding light onto what has been an understudied aspect of antebellum Black gun use.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

April 14, 2014 - Brown Bag with Lee Ann De Reus, Ph.D.

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Lee Ann De Reus, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Women's Studies

"Maternal Acceptance or Rejection of Children Born from Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo"

What determines whether a woman accepts or rejects a child born from rape? Is the ethnicity of the perpetrator a factor? How does trauma impact mother/child interactions? How do the women cope with stigma? This presentation will focus on the research results from focus groups with survivors of sexualized violence and the complex relationships these mothers share with their sons and daughters.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

April 11, 2014 - Michael Woldemariam, Ph.D., Public Lecture

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Michael Woldemariam, ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow for Political Science

"The Politics of Rebel Cohesion: Evidence from the Horn of Africa’s Civil Wars"

Under what conditions do armed insurgencies factionalize and fragment? Although the literature on civil war has long recognized the impact of internal divisions on rebel group behavior, only recently has attention been devoted to explaining infighting within rebel organizations. Among this emerging research program’s most important findings is the causal linkage between battlefield outcomes and rebel cohesion: war-related losses are often a precursor to internal discord because they create incentives and opportunities for subordinates to challenge the authority of organizational leaders. A casual review of patterns of rebel fragmentation across ongoing civil wars in Syria, Somalia, and South Sudan, largely bolsters this claim.

Using a range of mixed-method evidence from Ethiopia’s long civil war, this talk qualifies and refines existing thinking about the politics of factionalism and fragmentation within armed insurgent groups. The data confirms the strong relationship between shifting battlefield outcomes and rebel fragmentation, but argues that this causal link is mediated by a number of other variables, including the length of time incumbent rebel leaders have been in power, and the rate at which rebel organizations have absorbed new recruits. Battlefield performance clearly matters for rebel cohesion, buts its effects are conditioned by the internal political and social context of the group in question.

Beyond its specific empirical and theoretical findings, this research provides yet another illustration of the ways in which fine-grained, mixed-method analysis of a specific civil war, yields important insights of broader comparative value to the study of armed conflict and organized rebellion.

302 Pond Lab
12:15-1:45 p.m.

April 2, 2014 - Sasha Turner, Ph.D., Public Lecture

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Sasha Turner, ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Richards Center

"Demystifying the Mysterious and Uncanny: Obeah, Witchcraft, and Slavery in Jamaica"

This presentation examines the political and ideological tensions surrounding Obeah, a popular spiritual and healing institution among enslaved Africans in Jamaica, which slaveholders and colonial authorities interpreted as a kind of witchcraft used for diabolic purposes. Beginning with the 1760 anti-Obeah law passed in the aftermath of Tacky’s Revolt, the planter-class used witchcraft as a frame of reference to interpret, police, and criminalize cultural practices perceived as Obeah. Although witchcraft defies easy definitions in European popular culture, Jamaican officials’ deployment of the stereotype of witch as manipulators of demonic forces to subvert Europe’s moral and Christian order draws attention to their assessments that enslaved people’s cultural practices embodied a threat to system of slavery, as well as the colony’s political and economic stability. Yet, planters’ dependence on Obeah practitioners’ medical expertise, which enslaved women also relied on to limit their fertility, reveal that Obeah too eludes neat construction. Its simultaneous embodiment of rebellious potential and healing possibility spotlight the ambiguities and politically fraught nature of planters’ appraisals and enslaved people’s uses of Obeah. Conflicts around the uses and representations of Obeah attest to the transatlantic crossing of political and cultural ideas of both Africans and Europeans. Understanding these messy realities is important for transforming the persistent negative assumptions about Obeah that undergirds its continued criminalization in present-day Jamaica.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

March 31, 2014 - Tamara F. Lawson, Ph.D., Public Lecture

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Tamara F. Lawson, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law

"Stand Your Ground:  The Dilemma of Discretion, Race and Culture"

Associate Dean and Law Professor Tamara Lawson will provide a lively conversation on modern self-defense laws, commonly referred to as "stand your ground laws."

362 Willard
5:00-6:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Africana Research Center, Department of African American Studies, and Multicultural Undergraduate Law Association

March 24-28, 2014 - William "Sandy" A. Darity, Ph.D., Public Lectures and Seminars

March 24-28, 2014 - William Sandy A. Darity, Ph.D., Public Lectures and Seminars.jpg

William "Sandy" A. Darity, Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy, Professor of African and African-American Studies and Economics and Chair, Department of African and African American Studies, Director, Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at The Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

March 24: Seminar - "Race and Health"
This lecture will examine the controversy over whether the pharmocogenetic revolution establishes that certain diseases and medications are race specific. Does the anthropologists' claim that racial differences themselves are not genetically based disprove the claims of many pharmacogeneticists? If racial differences in the incidence of disease does not have a biogenetic basis then what explains health disparities?

124 Sparks
10:00 a.m.-noon

March 25:  Public lecture - “Affirmative Action around the World”
This lecture will examine on a comparative basis the content and impact of affirmative action measures in several countries. Particular emphasis will be given to Brazil, India, Malaysia, and the United States and whether affirmative action takes primarily the form of preferential boosts or quotas in each case.

Foster Auditorium
6:00-7:30 p.m.

March 27:  Public lecture - "The Persistence of Discrimination in Post-Racial America”
To the extent that the election of Barack Obama as US President has been interpreted as a signal that America has transcended its history of racial oppression, this lecture will examine the scope and extent of evidence that anti-black discrimination continues to be present in American life. The talk also will explain why discrimination may persist despite attitudinal changes that made the election of a black President a reality and the economists' standard argument that competitive markets should eliminate discriminatory behavior.

Nittany Lion Inn, Assembly Room
6:00-7:30 p.m.

March 28: Seminar - "Reparations"
This seminar will explore the case for restitutive justice for blacks in the USA for slavery and Jim Crow despite the election of Barack Obama as President.

124 Sparks
10:00 a.m.-noon

Sponsored by Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Africana Research Center, Department of African American Studies, Department of Political Science, and Department of Economics

March 24, 2014 - Brown Bag with Elaine Dicicco

March 24, 2014 - Brown Bag with Elaine Dicicco.jpg

Elaine Dicicco, Graduate Student, Departments of Psychology and Women's Studies

"'Assertive or Hostile? Intersecting Race and Gender Stereotypes in the Perception of Anger"

When displayed appropriately and effectively, anger can communicate status and competence – but for whom is anger beneficial? Prior work has found that women are perceived negatively when expressing anger because they violate gender roles of communality and warmth, but little work addresses the intersection of gender and race stereotypes in this context. Using an intersectional framework, I argue that black women’s anger may be perceived positively, as strong, tough and assertive (the Strong Black Woman stereotype) or negatively, as aggressive and hostile (the Angry Black Woman Stereotype) in relation to white women’s anger. In the studies presented in this talk, undergraduate participants listened to an audio clip of a black or white woman target, who expressed either anger or neutral emotion in a work context. Occupational status of the target was also varied across experimental conditions. Participants rated their impressions of the target’s competence, warmth, agency, and hostility. In both studies, the angry black female target was perceived as having more agency than the angry white female target. Occupational status did not differentially impact perceptions of targets. The results suggest that intersecting gender and race stereotypes differentially impact white and black women in a workplace context.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

March 4, 2014 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Jonathan Jansen, Ph.D.

March 4, 2014 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Jonathan Jansen, Ph.D..jpg

Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

"'Will Nelson Mandela Rise on the Third Day?' The Meaning of a Leader for Social and Educational Transformation"

I will draw on the myths, mysteries and meanings drawn from the life of Nelson Mandela, from both personal experiences as well as the voluminous writings on his life, to extract what I believe to be critical messages for transforming higher education everywhere. I will especially share what I learnt from Madiba in my own leadership experiences as the first black president of a white university trapped in a horrific crisis of racism in 2009, and how the life and lessons offered by the former politician, prisoner, president and pensioner transformed this institution into an award-winning example of how to change in ways that meet the twin objectives of reconciliation and social justice beyond the narrow legal/criminal approach.

Nittany Lion Inn, Board Room 1
6:00-7:30 p.m.

February 12, 2014 - Surya Parekh, Ph.D., Public Lecture

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Surya Parekh, ARC Affiliate Post-Doctoral Fellow for Philosophy

"Affirmations of Blackness: Reading the Black Enlightenment"

This presentation builds on scholarship in the Black Radical Tradition which centers concepts of blackness (variously naming and articulating historical and social formations, racial categories, and philosophical and aesthetic frameworks) as constitutive to modern discourses of identity, subjectivity, and collectivity. This scholarship reconstitutes the legacies and inheritances of the Enlightenment as always already in relation to blackness, thus uncovering and troubling the normative exclusions organizing historical and contemporary horizons of cosmopolitanism and humanism. Drawing on critical strategies predicated on notions of fugitivity and radical affirmation – formulated pithily by Fred Moten as “yes, and” – this presentation embarks on a reading of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and its critical reception in Ronald Judy and Paul Gilroy. A focus on the figures of “women of color” establishes the significance of blackness in Kant’s itinerary and reveals its gendered limits in a recent project of black humanism.

217 Willard
3:30-4:30 p.m.

February 10, 2014 - Brown Bag with Donna King, Ph.D.

February 10, 2014 - Brown Bag with Donna King, Ph.D..jpg

Donna King,  Ph.D., Lecturer in African American Studies

"The Role of the Black Church in Early Pennsylvania's Underground Railroad:  History, Educational Initiatives and Politics of Freedom"

Since the founding of Pennsylvania, African Americans have played a pivotol role in the state’s social, political and economic life. The Black Church has been at the center of black Pennsylvanian life over hundreds of years. It has served many functions throughout history from providing religion and literacy training for antebellum blacks to assisting in the end of slavery by its abolitionism and Civil War activism. Many black churches were sites for the Underground Railroad.  This network was a secretive network of escape routes for runaway slaves crossing into Pennsylvania heading north.  This lecture will focus on defining "abolitionist thought" and the "politics of freedom" related to the mission and founding of the black church.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

February 5, 2014 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar
Ariane Cruz, Ph.D., Gabeba Baderoon, Ph.D., Kathryn Gines, Ph.D. and Shirley Moody, Ph.D.
"Managing the Transition to Junior Faculty"
217 Willard
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

February 3, 2014 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS)

9:15 am - Presenter #1 - Tamura A. Lomax, Ph.D. - Vanderbilt University-Religion
"Loosing the Yoke: Black Feminism, Black Religion and Black Popular Culture"

This presentation draws attention to the exchange between black religion and black popular culture in the contemporary U.S. context, and how that exchange produced a black popular religion, on one hand, and a discourse on black womanhood that is yoked by “America’s Grammar Book” on race and gender, on the other. Examining the force of black religiosity as produced in the popular imagination and detangling black American and diasporic women from the present web of interpretation requires an alternate framework for reading that interlaces the critical gazes of black feminism, black cultural criticism, womanist thought, and religious criticism. Drawing upon the work of Hortense Spillers, bell hooks, Jacqueline Bobo, Stuart Hall, etc., I will use my current book projects to discuss the work of pop cultural religious media on black women, the need for critical discourses on the religious in feminist/black feminist studies, and black religious women as cultural readers.

10:00 am - Presenter #2 - Garry J. Bertholf, Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania-Africana Studies
“The Black Charismatic: Demagoguery and the Politics of Affect”

Tavis Smiley’s former “State of the Black Union” address remains an important historical site for thinking about affective (commonly called “charismatic”) black leadership. Relying entirely on film, video, and digital archives, this presentation will trace, at least in broad outline, the eleven-year-long evolution of Smiley’s former annual event, and offer original transcriptions of Louis Farrakhan, Michael Eric Dyson, and Cornel West, all of whom have made frequent appearances as panelists at the State of the Black Union. Through close readings of their televised performances, then, I will argue that the practice of demagoguery—what this presentation will theorize as the “allegorical,” “epideictic,” and “polytropic” modes of emplotment—now threatens to undermine the political opportunities afforded by the success of the modern civil rights movement, and increases the illusion, today, of an autochthonous black public sphere. Indeed, this presentation will focus on these affective political performances in order to draw tentative conclusions about the new liberalism of African-American politics.

10:45 am - Presenter #3 - Aaron A. Love (Ph.D. expected) - Temple University-African American Studies

“Conversations Between Past and Present:  An Off-The-Cuff Chat On Methodological Approaches to African Music”

This proposed work postures itself in the normative understandings of the relationships of intellectual developments and cultural aesthetics. In particular it attempts to concretize the relationships and work of African 1 scholars, African music, and its producers. The necessity of this work is not simply a matter of addressing the absurdities hovering around the research, analysis, application and methodological approaches to African music (primarily in the academic fields of music history and ethnomusicology). But specifically to address the pressing need of formulating methodologies in the research of African intellectual work; including its musical contributions and through praxis implementing methods to further the work of our approach, research, and inscribing of African musical canons and its producers.

Nittany Lion Inn, Alumni Room
9:15 a.m. - Noon

January 29, 2014 - Brown Bag with Darryl Thomas, Ph.D., and Ahmed Banya

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Darryl Thomas,  Associate Professor of African American Studies, and Ahmed Banya, Lecturer in African Studies

"Climate Change, Dry Agriculture/Forestry and Food Security in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa"

Our research project draws attention to the linkages and interconnections between development policy, human security and food security using the Obama’s foreign policy focus on Feed the Future/Trade Africa as a platform to research US policy toward Ethiopia and select sites in the rest of Africa. The Obama administration links development and security as crucial components of foreign policy pledging to wipe out hunger and enhance the capacity of poor countries to enhance food production and security during this cycle of climate change. The Bush and Obama’s administrations first response to the Chinese initiatives in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa was “hard power” through launching and tweaking of AFRICOM---the African Command---to combat Beijing’s entrance into American/European traditional turf. Africa human and natural resources has been the key prize sought by would-be hegemons or leading powers in the past and it is no different today as Beijing develops a strategic partnership with Africa and other states and regions in the Global South. Our research seeks to understand how smallholding farmers are adopting to climate change and the food insecurity that it produces in the Addi Me’ar region of Ethiopia. Our focus is to examine how government policies, extension assistance/service from Mekelle University, and the Obama’s Feed the Future, Trade/Africa and agricultural policies are reinforcing these farmers adaptation to climate change and food security.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

January 27, 2014 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS)

9:15 am - Presenter #1 - Brandon R. Byrd (Ph.D. expected) - Marquetta University-History
"An Experiment in Self-Government: Haiti in the African American Political Imagination, 1863-1915”

During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Haiti attracted the attention of African Americans. They recognized that white Americans disparaged the Western Hemisphere’s only independent black nation in order to justify the continued subjugation of blacks in their own country. In turn, African Americans freighted Haiti with great importance, identifying it as an example of black self-government that could either vindicate or damn the political and civil rights made possible with Emancipation, gained during Reconstruction, and restricted by Jim Crow. Analyzing the process by which black men and women affirmed their rights as Americans by highlighting their connection to Haitians provides unique insights into the transnational—and seemingly paradoxical—ways in which African Americans have laid claim to U.S. citizenship.

9:45 am - Presenter #2 - Cynthia R. Greenlee (Ph.D. expected) - Duke University-History
“A Most Offensive Outrage’: Child Rape and African-American Legal Culture in South Carolina, 1885-1905”

In the white-majority South Carolina upcountry, black girls’ sexual violence cases frequently populated local court dockets. Amid lynching and disenfranchisement, black girls and their supporters appealed to the remnants of Reconstruction’s legal order and won at rates comparable to those of white minors. While these cases document African-American litigiousness and underline black girls’ key role in defining childhood’s boundaries, I argue that they shed light on a more expansive legal vernacular in which the first postslavery generation pursued community-based conflict resolution strategies that operated in concert with — not outside — the formal law.

10:15 am - Presenter #3 - Aston Gonzalez (Ph.D. expected) - University of Michigan-History
“Exhibiting Slavery in the 1850s: Black Abolitionism and the Moving Panorama”

Scholars have increasingly identified the role of visual culture in the development of the abolitionist movement in the United States. Largely left undocumented, however, is the role that African Americans played in producing visual material in the service of abolitionism. The presentation centers on the moving panorama toured by black abolitionist James Presley Ball in half a dozen cities in Ohio and Massachusetts. Created primarily to disseminate messages of abolitionism, Ball’s panorama demonstrates that the fight for black rights not only took place at marches, political conventions, and benevolent societies; the fight included print and visual culture created and disseminated by African Americans. Examining the work of this black cultural producer expands the arsenal of strategies drawn upon by African Americans in the service of increasing black rights during the tumultuous decade of the 1850s.

10:45 am - Presenter #4 - Keisha N. Blain (Ph.D. expected) - Princeton University-History
“‘Confraternity Among All Dark Races’: Mittie Maude Lena Gordon and the Contours of Black Women’s Internationalism in an Age of Empire”

This talk highlights the political activities of Mittie Maude Lena Gordon, a former member of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), during the 1930s and 1940s. Drawing on Garveyism—Garvey’s race-based philosophy of black pride, African redemption, economic self-sufficiency, racial separatism and political self-determination—while also implementing new strategies of her own, Gordon engaged in what I call “grassroots internationalism.” Though she could not afford overseas travel, I argue that Gordon articulated a commitment to grassroots internationalism through her writings, community events, and local collaborations with men and women from various parts of the globe. By exploring Gordon’s life and activism, this talk captures the complexities, tensions, and contradictions within nationalist women’s political activism during this era. Moreover, it seeks to expand the scholarly discourse on black internationalism by shedding new light on how impoverished African American women engaged in black internationalism without ever crossing national borders.

Nittany Lion Inn, Alumni Room
9:15 a.m. - Noon