You are here: Home / EVENTS / Recent Events Archive / 2015


December 6, 2015 - African Student Association's Miss Africa PSU

A group of women will grace the stage to represent their individual heritages, while educating the Penn State Community about Africa as a whole. The aim of the event is to promote awareness about issues that affect their respective countries, increase knowledge and exposure of African culture, and demonstrate traditions amongst the African Community and the entire Penn State Community.

Heritage Hall
10 p.m.
Co-sponsored by Africana Research Center.

December 4, 2015 - Public Lecture with Hannah Messerli and Amit Sharma, Ph.Ds.

December 4, 2015 - Public Lecture with Hannah Messerli and Amit Sharma, Ph.Ds..jpg

December 3, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Charles Dumas, Ph.D.

December 3, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Charles Dumas, Ph.D..jpg
Charles Dumas, Associate Professor, School of Theatre, College of Arts and Architecture

"From Brown to Obama:  A Personal Perspective"

Charles Dumas is a professor emeritus from the College of Art and Architecture, a graduate of Yale Law School, United Nation research assistant, past President of Mid-Hudson Legal Services, which argued three class actions law suits before the US Supreme Court. He was the Democratic Party’s nominee to the US Congress in 2012. He was also a SNCC Project Director in the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964, a resident of Resurrection City during the King Assassination in 1968. He was an eyewitness to some of the notable moments in “The Movement” including the 1963 March on Washington, The Watts and Rodney King LA riots, The Berkley Free Speech Movement and The Columbia University Sit-ins. In this lecture he will discuss these events and allow adequate time for a question and answer period.

216 Willard

11:15 a.m.-12:15 a.m.

December 2, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Jack Selzer, Paterno Family Liberal Arts Professor of Literature
"Art of the Deal"
217 Willard

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

November 13, 2015 - Interdisciplinary Diaspora Studies Workshop with Ebony Coletu, Ph.D.

November 13, 2015 - Interdisciplinary Diaspora Studies Workshop with Ebony Coletu, Ph.D..jpg

On November 13 at 4:00 p.m., the Interdisciplinary Diaspora Studies Workshop, a group of Penn State graduate students, postdocs, and professors interested in critical race studies will host its first works-in-progress session of the year.

Dr. Ebony Coletu, Assistant Professor of English, will deliver a talk entitled "What Happened to Chief Sam? Revisiting the Back-to-Africa Movement That Inspired Garvey, 1911-1917," introducing the workshop members to her second book project.

The workshop is open to all, so please feel free to share this announcement with anyone who might have an interest in attending the session or who might be interested in sharing a project with the group in the future. Because food will be served at the event, I just ask that you RSVP to, so that I can estimate how many guests will be in attendance.

In preparation for the talk, Dr. Coletu has asked attendees to read an article by Robert Hill, curator of the Garvey papers. Dr. Coletu writes, "Most of the material for Hill's article was gathered on commission by James Anquandah in Ghana in the late 70s and I speak about the importance of recovering Anquandah's notes to open up new lines of research on this movement."

If you have any questions about the event or the Diaspora Studies Workshop, please feel free to contact .

217 Willard
4:00 p.m.

November 10, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Hester Blum, Associate Professor of English, and Debra Hawhee, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of English and Communication Arts and Sciences
"Essentials of Grant Writing"
217 Willard
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

November 9, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Shirley Moody-Turner, Ph.D.

November 9, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Shirley Moody-Turner, Ph.D..jpg

Shirley Moody-Turner, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies

"Anna Julia Cooper’s 'Lost' Writings:  Shadow-Reading African American Literary History"

Taking the case of Anna Julia Cooper, a renowned black woman writer, orator, educator, and activist, this talk argues for a series of returns that take us back to moments when texts by black women writers were ostensibly “lost,” asking what were the mechanisms through which texts became lost, and how have subsequent recoveries sometimes obscured those histories.  Establishing Cooper within the vast networks constituting the processes of literary production, I show how she navigated, subverted, and re-shaped the strictures of black print culture to participate in the material production and transmission of ideas, while simultaneously calling attention to the ways race and gender bias worked to curtail that participation. Drawing examples from a largely unexamined archive of Cooper’s writings--including 33 correspondences with W. E. B. Du Bois, Cooper’s 1931-1940 scrapbook, and her work as an editor for the Life and Writings of the Grimke Family--I establish Cooper’s innovative publishing strategies and radical engagements with print culture as integral to, rather than separate from, her astute analyses of, and challenges to, underlying cultural assumptions about race, gender and the politics of knowledge production.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

October 15, 2015 - Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Joycelyn K. Moody, Ph.D.

October 15, 2015 - 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
10:00 a.m.-noon

October 12, 2015 - Public Seminar and Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Gaye Theresa Johnson, Ph.D.

October 12, 2015 - Public Seminar and Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Gaye Theresa Johnson, Ph.D..jpg

Gaye Theresa Johnson, Associate Professor, Departments of Chicana/o Studies and African American Studies at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)


"Something From Nothing: Protest Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration and Detention"

This talk examines the production of connective geographies and new social imaginaries in visual and sonic protest art.  Johnson argues that particular cultural productions created in opposition to anti-immigrant and pro-carceral policy and practices in the United States now constitute the predominating discourse of resistance to the naturalization of border walls, confinement, and immobilization as conditions of modernity. 

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


"Intersectionality as Pedagogical, Collegial, and Scholarly Practice"

217 Willard
11:00 a.m.-noon

October 5, 2015 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Mary Hames

October 5, 2015 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Mary Hames.jpg
Mary Hames has been the longest serving head of the Gender Equity Unit at University of Western Cape. She holds an MPhil in South African Political Studies. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town. Through her vision and commitment to women’s and gender issues the university and wider community have benefited from the innovative programmes and projects initiated under her leadership. She has started an Edudrama programme that speaks out against violence against women and has produced five very successful and highly acclaimed productions called “Reclaiming the P…Word”; “Ekhulelekani Emakhaya (Freedom in the Home)”; “Reclaiming Body…Reclaiming Self”; Words 4 Women, and most recently, Sister Sister Sister. She regards the creative arts as an important vehicle to address continuous inequities in the South African higher education environment and to shift paradigms and stereotypes. She regards herself as a proud intellectual feminist activist. 

"Women and Feminism in Post-Apartheid Narratives:  Silences and Possibilities"

Feminist thought and activism are intrinsically part of the history and fabric of the South African liberation struggle. In this lecture I make the connection between women as actual and metaphorical prisoners during and after the demise of apartheid. I then address particular moments of feminist euphoria shortly after the first democratic election in 1994 and I reflect on how women’s and feminist advances have stealthily been eroded as the democracy matured. I illuminate the paradoxes of silences versus hypervisibility of women and raise the challenges and possibilities for revitalising feminist intellectual activism.

Nittany Lion Inn, Board Room 1

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Co-sponsored by Equal Opportunity Planning Committee, African Feminist Initiative, and Triota Women's Studies Honor Society.

October 5, 2015 - Luncheon Series with John Lipski, Ph.D.

October 5, 2015 - Luncheon Series with John Lipski, Ph.D..jpg

John Lipski, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Spanish and Linguistics

"Learning Palenquero (= un-learning Spanish?): young bilinguals in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia"

In the Afro-Colombian village of San Basilio de Palenque, Spanish is in contact with the ancestral creole language Palenquero, formed in the 17th century when enslaved Africans fled from the port of Cartagena and established fortified villages in rural regions to the south. Although community members are proud of being the “first free people of the Americas” (the village was never defeated by the Spaniards), the Palenquero language became the subject of ridicule and was becoming endangered until a decade ago. Recent language revitalization efforts have resulted in the teaching of the ancestral language to essentially monolingual Spanish-speaking children. The Palenquero language shares most of the vocabulary of Spanish, but none of the grammatical complexity (no verb conjugations, no masculine and feminine gender, etc.). Spanish speakers who learn Palenquero in effect have to “un-learn” the aspects of Spanish grammar that second-language learners find most difficult. By means of experiments conducted with students and traditional speakers this study addresses the question of whether learning the “simpler” Palenquero provides “relief” or whether “un-learning” Spanish is more difficult. The results have a direct impact on strategies for teaching this traditional language.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

October 2-3, 2015 - "Reclaiming the P... Word", a play directed by Mary Hames

October 2-3, 2015 - Reclaiming the P... Word, a play directed by Mary Hames.jpg

September 18, 2015 - Public Seminar and Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Adrienne LeBas, Ph.D.

September 18, 2015 - Public Seminar and Fellows' Mentoring Workshop with Adrienne LeBas, Ph.D..jpg

Adrienne LeBas, Associate Professor in the Department of Government at American University


"When Do Voters Sanction Violent Politicians? Evidence from a Vignette Experiment in Kenya"

In many new democracies, political violence is used by both incumbents and challengers during election campaigns. Existing research on political violence asserts that violence is effective in boosting a candidate's support from core constituencies or depressing turnout from likely opponents, yet there is little empirical work on how violence actually shapes individual vote choice and election turnout. To examine how ordinary voters respond to violent politicians, we use a vignette experiment embedded in a nationally-representative survey in Kenya, where electoral violence has been a consistent part of elections since 1992. In contrast to standard assumptions, the paper shows that individuals are consistently less likely to vote for candidates who are rumored to have used violence in past elections, regardless of the candidate's ethnicity or good record in office. The strength of violence's dampening effect on vote choice is more pronounced for ethnic "allies" than for the politician's coethnics, but we also find evidence that voters balance reports of violence with other aspects of the candidate's record. Victims of past electoral violence and poor voters are more likely to vote for violent politicians who have a credible record of past good performance in office, suggesting that some voters accept a "trade-off" between these candidate qualities. Because our vignette simulates an election, in which voters choose between candidates with different qualities, the paper also assesses the effect of one or more rumored violent candidates on election turnout. Rumored violence depresses turnout substantially in comparison to races with non-violent candidates, though this effect disappears for violent candidates who have a good performance record in office. The paper makes a significant contribution to our understanding of voter response to violence, suggesting that some voters are willing to discount violence when they possess other positive information about candidates.

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


"From Dissertation to Book to New Research: Balancing Projects as a Junior Scholar"

217 Willard
11:00 a.m.-noon

September 17, 2015 - Public Lecture with Hema Kesa, Ph.D.

September 16, 2015 - Open Discussion with the Catalyst Quartet

The Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with the Africana Research Center and Department of African American Studies, presents members of Catalyst Quartet, who give a talk about the power of diversity and thriving in classical music, an environment that doesn’t necessarily value diversity. The musicians will also answer audience questions. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own food to the one-hour event, part of the Africana Research Center’s luncheon series.

September 16, 2015 - Open Discussion with the Catalyst Quartet.jpg

12:00 pm 

Eisenhower Auditorium Conference Room

September 14, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Audrey Lumley-Sapanski

September 14, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Audrey Lumley-Sapanski.jpg

Audrey Lumley-Sapanski, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography

"Urban Agriculture and the Global South: A study of the Fresh Produce Commodity Chain Utilized by Urban Agriculturalists in Philippi Township"

The Philipi Horticultural Area, or PHA, is a well-known urban farming area located just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Comprising approximately 2000ha of verdant farm land, the agricultural area produces a significant percentage of the city’s food (estimates vary from between 30% to 80% depending on the crop) as well as producing food for export domestically and abroad. As such, the PHA is celebrated in the literature for its agricultural contributions, its role in job creation and its existence as preserved green space.   While true, the definition of the area as an urban farm conflates its existence with other urban farming ventures.  The PHA is a large farming operation, with a historical presence dating over 100 years which is increasingly experiencing the threat of urban sprawl and development pressures. The PHA is not, generally speaking, urban farming as it is commonly defined: individuals or groups who farm small plots in an effort to supplement their income or food source often with the benefit of tax subsidies or governmental support. Consequently, using the phrase urban farm confuses the reading of the PHA both in its potential as well as its role in the community. This presentation explores the challenges presented by the discursive use of urban farming in relation to the PHA. Further, it explains why the misuse of urban farming to characterize these operations might work against the preservationists’ attempts to protect it.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

September 9, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

September 9, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar.jpg

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

Kathryn B. Yahner, Acquisitions Editor 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)

September 1, 2015 - "Reclaiming the P... Word" Auditions

September 1, 2015 - Reclaiming the P... Word Auditions.jpg

September 1, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Kit Hume, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English
"The Academic Job Hunt"
217 Willard

9:00 a.m.-Noon

August 31, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Gabeba Baderoon, Ph.D.

August 31, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Gabeba Baderoon, Ph.D..jpg

Gabeba Baderoon, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and African and African American Studies

“Fantastic Lives: Making the Self in South African Autobiography”

The long history of experimental autobiography in South Africa by writers such as I. B. Tabata and Bessie Head, and more recently J. M. Coetzee and Jacob Dlamini makes this  African post-colony the site of a challenging and thoughtful engagement with genres of self-making.  In this paper I analyze autobiographies by queer Muslims within the archive of non-realist discourses of the self, including fantastic, ghost-written, fictionalized, and invented selves.  Reading autobiographies that grapple directly with the anxiety of “inauthenticity” allows me to place recent experiments in queer Muslim self-writing within South African debates about national identity and cultural authenticity.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

August 26, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Kathryn Gines, Associate Professor of Philosophy
"Work/Life Balance for Academics"
217 Willard
9:00 a.m. - Noon

August 24, 2015 - ARC Post-Doctoral and Dissertation Fellow Orientation and Luncheon

The ARC welcomes 2015-2016 post-doctoral fellows, Juli Grigsby, Aditi Malik, and Nicole Myers Turner, and dissertation fellows, Margaret Ariotti, Jessica Baker Kee, and Susan Weeber.
217 Willard
10:00 a.m.-noon Orientation
Noon-1:00 p.m. Luncheon with mentors

April 30, 2015 - ARC Annual Fellows' Recognition & Awards

April 30, 2015 - ARC Annual Fellows' Recognition & Awards.jpg
The Africana Research Center's annual ARC Awards in recognition of our 2014-2015 fellows, Jaime Amparo Alves, Keisha N. Blain, Cynthia Greenlee, Surya Parekh, and Anyabwile Aaron Love.

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

April 21, 2015 - Surya Parekh, Ph.D., Public Lecture

April 21, 2015 - Surya Parekh, Ph.D., Public Lecture.jpg
Surya Parekh, ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow for African American Studies

"Neither Genius Nor Hero: Phillis Wheatley, Gender, and Slavery"

Since the late 18th century, critical scholarship has typically monumentalized Phillis Wheatley’s life while dismissing her poetry. Marilyn Walker writes that Wheatley has been praised as an “exemplar of the intellectual abilities of enslaved Africans and fore-mother of the African-American literary tradition” and criticized for being a “poor imitator of Pope, not reflecting black experience, and writing in a neo-classical style.” Amiri Baraka’s assertion that Wheatley’s poems were “far, and finally, ludicrous departures from the huge black voices that splintered southern nights with their hollers, chants, arwhoolies, and ballits,” follows a long line of critics, among them Richard Wright and James Weldon Johnson, for whom Wheatley’s importance (in Baraka’s case as a negative example) is limited to her position as first black American author. Absent from Wheatley’s poetry, claim these critics, is the very spontaneous figure of passion, occasioned by life in slavery, which would simultaneously sound deliverance from conditions of bondage and divide the very representational fabric of slavery (“splinter the night”).

This presentation examines the gendered grid of genius, imitation, heroism, and accommodation that frames the critical divisions in the discourse on Wheatley and also governs the complex protocols by which readers expect works of slave literature to perform the life of a subject in slavery. Imagining the position of the female gendered slave as insistently negotiating a distance from fraternity and humanity, it argues for a consideration of the gendered dimensions of the frameworks that structure our identifications of absence and disappointed expectations in Wheatley’s poetry and continue to feature in our figuring of black intellectual labor.

216 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

April 13-14, 2015 - Nathaniel Mackey Public Interview and Poetry Reading

April 13-14, 2015 - Nathaniel Mackey Public Interview and Poetry Reading.jpg

April 8, 2015 - Keisha N. Blain, Ph.D., Public Lecture

April 8, 2015 - Keisha N. Blain, Ph.D., Public Lecture.jpg
Keisha N. Blain, ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow for African American Studies

"'[F]or the Rights of Dark People in Every Part of the World':  Pearl Sherrod, Black Internationalist Feminism, and Afro-Asian Politics in Depression-Era Detroit"

This talk explores the political ideas and activism of Pearl Sherrod, an African American woman who became a leader of the Development of Our Own (TDOO), a Detroit-based antiracist political movement that sought to unite African American and Asian activists during the Great Depression. Drawing on archival material, historical newspapers, and government records, I demonstrate how Sherrod articulated what literary scholar Cheryl Higashida refers to as “black internationalist feminism” in her study on black women writers on the Communist Left. As black internationalist feminists, women in the Communist Party—Louise Thompson Patterson, Esther Cooper Jackson, Maude White Katz and Claudia Jones, among them—linked their commitment to universal black liberation, decolonization, and economic justice with a desire to challenge patriarchy and expand women’s rights and opportunities. In this talk, I employ the term similarly—not as a Marxist analysis of racism or explicit challenge to heterosexism but, rather as a way to describe Pearl Sherrod’s dual commitment to building transnational and transracial political alliances while advancing a feminist agenda. By excavating Sherrod’s life, which has been hidden in the historical record, this talk highlights the key role a nonstate female actor played in shaping black internationalist movements and discourses during a global economic crisis and within a climate of government repression and censorship. While much of the literature on black internationalism privileges the political activities of the black middle-class and elite, this talk foregrounds the political ideas and praxis of a working-class woman activist in Detroit who skillfully employed a myriad of strategies and tactics to promote black internationalist politics and Afro-Asian solidarity.

216 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

April 6, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Kendra Taylor

April 6, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Kendra Taylor.jpg
Kendra Taylor, Graduate Student, Department of Education Policy Studies, Educational Leadership

"The Role of Gender and Language in Peace Education: An Evaluation of a Moroccan Peace Education Program"

What might a participant in a peace education program walk away with at the conclusion of the course? Peace education programs, unlike larger trends in education which stress accountability and results that seek easy categorization, often defy a clear answer to this question. This presentation explores what one particular group of students in Morocco walked away with after participating in a six-week peace education program. Both quantitative and qualitative data was collected to provide insights into whether, and if so, what kinds of changes participants experienced in terms of attitudes and perceptions, problem solving skills, and sense of empowerment. There were significant positive changes in problem solving skills and sense of empowerment, but with noticeable differences between male and female participants –with female participants making greater gains. The qualitative data collected helps to provide insights into these differences, including the various ways participants conceptualized peaceful community living along gender lines and their varying notions of the most important aspects of problem solving. These findings lead to a discussion of ongoing challenges in the field and recommendations for further research.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

April 1, 2015 - Jaime Amparo Alves, Ph.D., Public Lecture

April 1, 2015 - Jaime Amparo Alves, Ph.D., Public Lecture.jpg

Jaime Amparo Alves, ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow for African American Studies

"REFUSING TO BE GOVERNED:  State Delinquency, Spatial Transgressions and Gang Violence in Colombia's 'Blackest City'"

This talk explores state strategies of urban governance in the predominantly black district of Aguablanca, in the outskirts of Santiago de Cali, Colombia’s blackest city. In the last couple of years, the Colombian state has developed a set of strategies to “humanize” its brutal police force and control the embattled geographies dominated by street-gangs. Yet, while the state has invested a quite amount of energy in propagating an image of a democratic state of rights, the violent presence of the police in the lives of Afro-Colombians, as well as the state absence as a social provider, has produced racialized geographies of violence and resistance. By looking at the everyday encounters of Afro-Colombians to the state, the talk highlights the limits of the citizen security approach in dealing with black bodies, as well as the politics of resistance carried out by those whose racial marks render them as ungovernable subjects.

216 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

March 31, 2015 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Hortense J. Spillers, Ph.D.

March 31, 2015 - Fellows' Mentoring Program with Hortense J. Spillers, Ph.D..jpg
Hortense J. Spillers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English, Vanderbilt University


"The Idea of Black Culture"

Looking at several theorists and theories of black culture, I argue that the idea of the latter is synonymous with critical culture, which begins in this instance as a systematic complaint that is embodied in the violence of the modern world. “The Idea of Black Culture” is an exploration of this thematic and its nodes of transition from Du Bois to the contemporary period.

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

Fellows' Workshop:
"Le Code Noir: The Law and the Living"
217 Willard
11:00 a.m.-Noon

March 30, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Charleon A. Jeffries
217 Willard
10:00-11:30 a.m.

March 28, 2015 - 32nd Annual Touch of Africa

March 28, 2015 - 32nd Annual Touch of Africa.jpg

March 27, 2015 - African Studies Program presents "Extractive Industries for African Development: A Paradigm Shift"

Brief description of the objectives of the one-day symposium:

Extractive industries in Africa have contributed to notable economic growth in a number of countries. However, these industries are also associated with a host of problems, including Environmental degradation, conflicts, poverty, health problems, and corruption. The overriding question the symposium would grapple with is how African countries can manage their extractive industries so that they become engines for sustainable socioeconomic transformation. We expect panelists to explore a number of interrelated questions, including but not limited to the following:

Are African countries receiving industry standard in financial and environmental terms from transnational corporations engaged in extractive industries? If not what specific measures can be undertaken to rectify this problem by designing more effective mining codes?

What steps can be undertaken to control invoice fraud and tax evasion problems?

What industry codes and regulations would alleviate the environmental disaster and health hazards that characterize much of the industry in Africa?

What is the impact of the industry on local communities?

What innovative arrangements can be devised to make the industry instrumental in poverty alleviation?

What problems are associated with artisanal mining in African and what innovative policy measures can address such problems?

Does the industry contribute to social unrest and conflicts in Africa and why? What policies would address such problems effectively?

International Panelists will include:

Kassahun Alemu, Ph.D., Pol. Sc. Addis Abab University, Ethiopia

Boyowa Anthony Chokor, Ph.D., Department of Geography & Regional Planning, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

Jonas Ewald, Senior Lecturer, Ph.D., Peace and Development Studies Linneaus University, Växjö, Sweden

Sebastian Gatimu, Researcher Governance, Crime and Justice Division, Institute for Security Studies, Nairobi

Ms. Marit Y. Kitaw, Ph.D., Economic Affairs Officer, Mineral Sector Governance, African Minerals Development Center (AMDC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia

Robert Mhamba, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Martin Ndende, Ph.D., Senior Regional Advisor, Contract Negotiations on Natural Resources and Extractive Industries Economic Commission for Africa - CDD

Antonio M.A. Pedro, Ph.D., Director, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA), Kigali-Rwanda

Mohamed Salih, PhD., Chair, Politics of Development International Institute of Social Studies Erasmus University Rotterdam The Hague Campus, The Netherlands

Samson Wassara, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor, University of Bahr al-Ghazal, Wau, South Sudan

Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
9:00 a.m.
Co-sponsored by Africana Research Center.

March 23, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Christopher Hayashida-Knight

March 23, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Christopher Hayashida-Knight.jpg

Christopher Hayashida-Knight, Graduate Student, Department of History

“'Not a Matter That Concerned our Color': African American Women’s National Identity and the 1876 Centennial World’s Fair"

As the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence approached, the city of Philadelphia in 1873 was busily preparing to host the Centennial Exposition of 1876, the first world’s fair on U.S. soil. The Women’s Centennial Executive Committee, anxious to gain subscriptions to Centennial stock from as many Philadelphians as possible, invited their middle-class “colored” counterparts to join their fundraising efforts. The African American women were quickly informed, however, that they were “only asked out of politeness,” and that anyway “the celebration was not a matter that concerned [their] color, but only white people.” The Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, with its assertion that “all men are created equal” apparently did not apply to African Americans -- even after war and emancipation. Black activist women were making their own claims to the ideals of 1776, however, as evidenced by their stirring words and their tireless commemoration work at Mother Bethel AME Church of Philadelphia. National identity took many competing forms, even among northerners, after the Civil War. Building on the work of women’s historians like Francesca Morgan and Judith Giesberg, as well as theories of nation and state described by scholars of colonialism, this paper will examine the role played by patriotic language in shaping the local activism of Black women in post-war Philadelphia. A closer examination of the patriotisms held by Philadelphia women in this era will help to uncover the importance of national pride to the local African-American freedom struggle.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

March 18, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Michael Kulikowski, Ph.D., and Carolyn Sachs, Ph.D.
"Promotion & Tenure"
217 Willard

February 25, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Larkin Hood, Ph.D.
"Large Classes, Big Challenges: Strategies for Instructor Success"
217 Willard
10:00-11:30 a.m.

February 24, 2015 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Garrey Dennie, Ph.D.

February 24, 2015 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Garrey Dennie, Ph.D..jpg
Garrey Dennie, Associate Professor of History at St. Mary's College of Maryland

"Mandela's Words:  Mightier than the Sword"

Nelson Mandela’s death has triggered global outpouring of grief and memorials, a testament to his role in the struggle against apartheid.  As a scholar of death, bereavement, and grief in South Africa, and as a former speech writer of Nelson Mandela, my lecture will speak to the intersection of these dual roles.   As a scholar, I will explore how the language of liberation in the 1960s and the 1990s was deeply influenced by the specificities of time and place.  As a Mandela speech writer, I will detail how living in the moment, the speech writers struggled to craft the language that would give momentum to the struggle to defeat apartheid.

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

February 23, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Dana Naughton, Ph.D.

February 23, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Dana Naughton, Ph.D..jpg
Dana Naughton, College of Education, Adult Education and Comparative & International Education

"A Womb With a View: Dutch and Canadian Experiences of Adopting Infants from the United States"

Intercountry adoption (ICA; also known as international adoption) is an international child welfare practice usually understood as the placement of orphaned children from low-resource nations with adoptive parents and families from higher-resource nations. Except when it isn’t.  In this discussion, Dana Naughton, Ph.D., presents a new wrinkle in this contemporary child welfare paradigm. For at least the last twenty-five years, the United States has quietly secured a place as a “sending country” of children available for international adoption. These children, most of whom are placed at birth or shortly thereafter, are primarily Black, bi-racial or minority infants, and they are placed with families in Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, among other regions across the world.  Canada is the leading receiving nation of U.S. adoptees, and in 2009, Dr. Naughton conducted a study with Canadian and U.S. adoption service providers and agency directors, to understand the sending and receiving forces that facilitate placement of U.S. children with foreign families. In 2012 and 2013 her doctoral research took her to Canada and throughout the Netherlands (the second largest receiving nation of U.S. adoptees) as she met with 20 families formed through U.S.-Canadian or U.S.–Dutch adoptions. Focusing on the adoptive parents’ experiences, this talk examines: how these families’ learned about U.S. adoptions; why they chose to adopt from the U.S.; the learning activities and preparation undertaken for these transracial and/or transnational adoptions; the emergence of open adoption in a traditionally closed adoption model; and how adopting from the U.S. challenged Dutch and Canadian parents’ constructions of family and citizenship.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

February 9, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Francis Dodoo, Ph.D.
"Essentials of Grant Writing"
217 Willard
10:00-11:30 a.m.

February 2, 2015 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS)

9:00-9:45 - Tristan Ivory, Ph.D. - Stanford University (Sociology)

“Turning Japanese? Bifurcated Incorporation and Sub-Saharan Africans in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area"

My talk centers around the experiences of Sub-Saharan Africans living and working in the Tokyo Metropolitan region. Using original field research gathered between 2011 and 2012, I argue that institutional incorporation policies split migrants into two groups: those who will be incorporated as high-skilled laborers or professionals and those who will be incorporated as low-skilled laborers. Strategies for mobility are different within each group and based on their access to resources within Japanese society. Long-term staying migrants who are initially incorporated as low-skilled laborers eventually develop deeper attachments within Japanese society than their peers who are initially incorporated as high-skilled laborers or professionals. This finding runs counter to expectations and has important implications for international research on social mobility and inequality.

9:45-10:30 - Olivenne Skinner, Ph.D. - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Psychology)
"Gender Matters, Too: The Role of Gender in the Educational Outcomes and Self-views of African American Youth"

Gender is one of the most salient aspects of identity in most cultures, but most research examining the normative development of African American children and adolescents has focused on race as a social identity rather than gender. In my program of research I seek to understand the ways in which gender shapes African American youth’s development. For example, I am interested in questions such as: Do African American youth endorse traditional academic gender stereotypes? Are boys and girls socialized differently in African American families, and how does differential socialization influence their developmental outcomes? In this talk, I will discuss gender differences in African American youth’s educational outcomes, traditional gender attitudes regarding work and family roles of men and women, gender identity (e.g., self perceptions of femininity, self-perceptions of masculinity, gender typicality), and how gender attitudes, parents’ expectations, and gender identity influence boys’ and girls’ education attainment-related outcomes. Because both race and gender are important aspects of identity for African American youth, I will also highlight how race and gender shape their self-esteem. My talk will illustrate the importance of gender in the lives of African American youth and lay the foundation for future research in this area.

10:30-11:15 - Juli Grigsby, Ph.D. - University of Texas at Austin (Women's Studies)
"The Black Coalition Fighting Back:  Grim Sleep and US Third World Feminism"
For 25 years, from 1984 to 2010, Lonnie Franklin Jr, dubbed the "Grim Sleeper," roamed the streets of South Los Angeles sexually assaulting and murdering black women. During this time at least three other men targeted and slayed black women on busy avenues, stalking local bars, and leaving dozens of families grieving. The lack of sustained attention by the LAPD and its failure to alert surrounding communities contributed to the prolonged murderous spree. In this context black activist women, as well as families of the murdered and missing, resisted disavowal of black life by organizing vigils, talking circles, and press conferences to address the silence surrounding the killings. I explore the social geography of black feminist counterpublics through public storytelling and events organized by the Black Coalition Fighting Back through the lens of black radical tradition in part explained as, “it deepens with each disappointment at false mediation and reconciliation, and is crystallized into ever-increasing cores by betrayal and repression,”(317). I illustrate that Grim Sleep produced through racialized gendered violence and state repression is evidenced by the minuscule attention placed on violent murdering of black women within black neighborhoods required the generation of a roving counterpublic as a form of resistance that recreated community activism and fostered healing through support and action.
11:15-Noon - Aditi Malik, Ph.D. - Northwestern University (African Studies/Political Science)

“Ethnic Parties and Political Coalitions in Kenya: Explaining Variations in the Outbreak of Electoral Violence across Space and Time (1991-2013)"

Since the restoration of multiparty competition in the country in the early 1990s, three of Kenya’s five presidential elections—1992, 1997, and 2007—have been accompanied by severe violence in the form of inter-ethnic clashes. However, the elections of 2002 and 2013 were relatively peaceful. What is the source of these variations? By combining the use of event data on episodes of inter-ethnic violence with in-depth elite interviews that were conducted in the Rift Valley and the Coast, this research proposes a two-stage argument to account for the puzzle at hand. First, it posits that violent elections in Kenya have stemmed from the confluence of two key factors: a) the creation of an ascriptively divided electorate in which ethnic rivals have been voting in diametrically opposing camps and b) the successful inflammation of long-standing inter-communal grievances that these communities hold against each other. Second, in order to explain why politicians have chosen to build political coalitions that have united rival communities around some elections but have actively engaged in dividing these groups around other contests, this project finds that the creation of multi-ethnic alliances in Kenyan politics has not been a bi-product of politicians’ commitments to peace. Instead, I show that strategies of ethnic accommodation have only been adopted when Kenyan elites found themselves responding to revised institutional conditions—arrangements that rendered prevailing strategies of division ineffectual from a power-seeking perspective.

Noon-12:45 - Shermaine Jones, Ph.D. - University of Virginia (Comparative Literature)
"Rage as a Radical Ethic: The Pedagogical Function of Violence in the Autobiographies of Malcolm X and Angela Davis"

My talk will engage the ways that Black Power figures Angela Davis and Malcolm X construct, use, and revise the genre of autobiography. I contend that the autobiography operates much like the eulogy in the American cultural imaginary; it is a documenting of lives recognized as honorable that serves the project of the nation. Signifying on the slave narrative tradition of self-writing and protest, Angela Davis and Malcolm X’s autobiographies initiate and implicate the reader into scenes of state sanctioned violence as a pedagogical exercise to demonstrate the pervasiveness of violence against the black subject and critique American democracy. But while the slave narratives appeal to the sympathy of its white readership, Davis and Malcolm X turn to (black) rage as the emancipatory affect. Most importantly, they articulate rage as a radical ethic to present alternative ways of understanding and relating to power.

216 Willard
9:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

January 30, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

John Christman, Ph.D.
"How to Best Teach, Mentor and Advise Undergrad and Graduate Students, and Pitfalls to Avoid"
217 Willard
10:00-11:00 a.m.

January 27, 2015 - Cynthia Greenlee, Ph.D., Public Lecture

Cynthia Greenlee, Ph.D., ARC Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Richards Center

102 Weaver
4:00 p.m.

January 27, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Drs. William Blair and Sabra Statham

January 27, 2015 - Luncheon Series with Drs. William Blair and Sabra Statham.jpg

William Blair, College of the Liberal Arts Research Professor, Director of the Richards Civil War Era Center, and Sabra Statham, Ph.D., Office of Scholarly Communications

"Assessing the William Dorsey African American Scrapbook Collection"

The William Dorsey scrapbook collection documents sixty years of African American history from 1847 to 1906. As the largest known surviving scrapbook collection compiled by a black bibliophile, it represents a unique lens through which to view the issues of the day. Yet, it has been largely “hidden” from scholars and was in fact believed lost for many decades.

This luncheon talk will start with Dr. Blair who will discuss the scholarly significance of this collection. William Dorsey was a Philadelphia artist born of a prominent African American family (though his father was a former slave). His collection of 388+ scrapbooks were carefully arranged and crafted over 60 years during which the economic, political and social landscape changed immensely for all Americans but particularly for those of African descent. Dorsey’s work has been the source for several major social histories including W.E.B. DuBois’ classic The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. However the collection is not merely a compilation of newspaper clippings but one man’s critique of the world in which he lived.

Dr. Statham, project manager for the William Dorsey scrapbook grant will follow up with a close look at grant year activities and collection details. In 2013/14 the Africana Center helped support a full scholarly and archival assessment of the collection in order to determine its suitability for digitization by the Penn State University Libraries in partnership with Cheyney University of Pennsylvania which owns the collection. She will share the findings as well as future plans with the audience.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

January 26, 2015 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS)

9:00-9:45 - Caitlin Verboon, Ph.D. - Yale University (History)

“Public and Private Rights Are Confounded:  Freedom, Disorder, and the Renegotiation of Urban Space after the Civil War"

This talk positions the renegotiation and reclassification of urban space at the center of post-Civil War citizenship and freedom struggles.  There were three distinct types of public space in Southern cities – traditional, public-private, and governmental.  Residents used the three spaces in a variety of ways to make claims about the nature of citizenship.  Moreover, each type of space called into question conflicting rights – of white people, of black people, of private property, of access – in different ways.  Thus while the end result of such spatial negotiation may have been exclusion and segregation, they were not themselves original objectives.  I present a new perspective on the development of Southern race relations and connect black activist strategies to a longer civil rights struggle.

9:45-10:30 - Nicole Myers Turner, Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania (History)

"Powering the Pulpit:  Politics of Black Religious Institutions in Post-Emancipation Virginia"

Virginia’s post-emancipation black religious institutions defined freedom under constraints.  In the midst of the political rupture that opened a way out of slavery, these churches, conventions and seminaries articulated black political ideology, shaped political strategies, informed interracial cooperation and defined community and gender roles.  While these actions demonstrate the social and organizational power of these institutions, I argue that they also show the historical contingency of a politically engaged black religion.

10:30-11:15 - Selah S. Johnson, Ph.D. - University of California at Los Angeles (History)

“The Day the District Shook:  The April 4, 1968 Washington Riot and the Aftermath"

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin L. King, Jr’s assassination sparked outrage across the country. Some of the most pronounced and infamous forms of outrage were urban riots. This paper focuses specifically on the April 4, 1968 riot in Washington, D.C. The Washington riot represented a critical shift in the “Free D.C.” Movement (FDCM). The FDCM was a political movement designed to ensure Washingtonians full political enfranchisement. The movement also sought to create and implement policies that would eventually eradicate the inequities in housing, education and employment among black Washingtonians, in particular. Prior to the riot, FDCM activism centered on boycotts, sit-ins, and lobbying for structural changes to housing, employment and education. The violent explosion of April 4th, however, demonstrated that previous acts of resistance failed to adequately address the plight of black Washingtonians, and therefore, new measures would have to be developed in order to ultimately, free D.C.

11:15-Noon - Mary Hicks, Ph.D. - University of Virginia (History)

“Juan Jozeph's Map of the Atlantic: African and Creole Mariners, Mobility and Commerce during the Era of the Slave Trade”

Eighteenth and early nineteenth century Salvador da Bahia, the capital of Portugal’s Brazilian colony and the third largest slave trading entrepôt in the Atlantic, was home to the largest population of African and creole (Brazilian born blacks) mariners outside of West Africa. Between 1775 and 1835, African and creole mariners accounted for nearly half of all seafarers laboring slave trading routes between Bahia and the Bight of Benin in West Africa. These highly mobile and cosmopolitan men strategically leveraged their ability to successfully operate in the disparate cultural milieus of West Africa and Bahia, limiting their own marginalization and facilitating greater autonomy from their owners. They pioneered informal (and at times illicit) trading networks in African produced textiles and palm oil, which in turn introduced African material culture and knowledge to the New World. Both locally and globally oriented, black mariners inhabited multiple social worlds. While maintaining fraternal bonds with shipmates and patrons, they also forged ties with enslaved urban communities by joining catholic brotherhoods and enlisting in militias. My presentation explores how these men negotiated imperial boundaries, made themselves indispensable to Portuguese commerce and Brazilian urban life, and in the process transformed the maritime Atlantic World.

Noon-12:45 - Nicole Spigner, Ph.D. - Vanderbilt University (English)
"Mirror of Desire: Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood"
In her 1903 magazine novel, Of One Blood, Pauline Hopkins reconsiders Pygmalion’s lineage, and particularly the Ovidian story of Myrrha, in order to re-inscribe for her audience notions of racialized desire and racial threat by identifying white masculinity as reliant upon the black feminine body. At the time that Hopkins wrote, “racial threat” was coded as black male aggression, the threat to and violation of miscegenation laws through violent acts by black men against white women, that inspired an ever increasing number of incidents of lynching. Of One Blood rewrites Ovid’s story of incest and transformation to subvert popular notions of black male aggression towards white women and, instead, argues that the most consistent and formative racial threat manifested as white male violent desire for black women—a pattern of behavior enabled by the history and materiality of American chattel slavery.
12:45-1:30 - Kenton Rambsy, Ph.D. - University of Kansas (English)

“Understanding and Text-mining African American Short Fiction”

There has been considerable, high-quality work on African American authors and literature over the last few decades. Scholarship on Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and many others has flourished. In addition, scholars have produced extensive work on novels and to some extent on poetry. But what about short stories, and how might digital humanities, specifically text-mining software, enhance African American literary studies?  My presentation concentrates on short fiction by Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara, Edward P. Jones, and just a few nods to Shawn Carter, pointing out how their works correspond to some of our overall interests concerning the study of black literature. In addition to giving attention to issues of geography in the stories, I utilize quantitative data and text-mining software to uncover hidden, notable patterns in short fiction.
216 Willard (Spigner and Rambsy will present in 217 Willard)
9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

January 21, 2015 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Kathryn Gines, Ph.D.
"Work/Life Balance for Academics"
217 Willard
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

January 16, 2015 - Coffee Hour with Jaime Alves, Ph.D.

January 16, 2015 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
3:30 p.m. Refreshments are offered in the E. Willard Miller seminar room, 319 Walker Building 4:00 p.m. The lecture begins in the John J. Cahir Auditorium, 112 Walker Building

This presentation explores the racialized dimensions of policing practices in Brazil. To do so, we look not at the police, their administrative organization, and practices, but rather, we examine the modes of sociality reflected in and produced by police violence. Drawing from a statistics-based analysis of the social and political outcomes produced by the state in its preparation of mega-sporting events – evictions, incarceration, and police violence, for example – we identify a nexus between, on the one hand, racialized violence against black bodies, and on the other, white loyalty to the state, despite, or precisely because of, a specific type of violence perpetrated by the state on white bodies. Our primary contention is that we cannot understand white victimization by the police – and the outrage it produces – without taking into consideration two foundational, dialectical aspects of the regime of rights: complicity and disavowal. White vulnerability to this specific form of state violence – a form of violence that is nevertheless contingent and produces collective horror – reflects not only the disavowal of black challenges vis-a-vis urban life, but also the strengthening of the white public sphere.


Jaime Amparo Alves is an Afro-Brazilian anthropologist and social activist. He holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the Africana Research Center at Penn State and associate researcher at Centro de Estudios Afrodiasporicos (Universidad Icesi). As an Africana Research Center post-doctoral fellow, he is revising his book manuscript "Macabre Spatialities: The Politics of Race, Gender and Violence in Brazil," and working on his new project on black criminal agency, drug-trafficking and urban governance in Cali/Colombia. He is published on issues related to the African Diaspora, black urbanities, drug-trafficking, and police in Latin America. His most recent works have appeared in Antipode Journal of Radical Geography and the Journal of Black Studies. His next publication "We never slept," coauthored article with Joao Costa Vargas, explores the meanings of black protest in Brazil and in the United States. He is a blogger and writes regularly in Brazilian alternative media. Jaime's fellowship and awards records include Ford Foundation, DSD-SSRC and Ruth Simms Hamilton among others.

Point of Contact:

Angela Rogers

January 15, 2015 - The 40th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Banquet - "Now, More Than Ever"

The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, President's Hall

Doors open at 5:45 p.m., Banquet begins at 6:30 p.m.

January 14, 2015 - Ayiti Cheri: 5th Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake

We are honored to have Sam Richards, as our keynote speaker! We will also have Haitian performances, food, and information about the resiliency of Haiti before and after the devastating earthquake.

We hope that you join NCNW and CSA as we celebrate Haiti tonight at 6pm in Heritage Hall.
January 14, 2015 - Ayiti Cheri 5th Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake.jpeg