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April 27, 2017 - ARC Fellows' Awards Reception

The Africana Research Center's annual ARC Fellows' Awards Reception in recognition of our 2016-2017 post-doctoral fellows, Amira Rose Davis, Olivenne Skinner, and Sarah Stefana Smith, and dissertation fellows, Veronica Hicks and Laura Vrana.

Entertainment will be provided by Urban Fusion.

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

April 20, 2017 - Ngugi wa Thiong'o Public Lecture


Ngugi flyer

April 16, 2017 - Black Family Reunion


Black Family Reunion

April 1, 2017 - The Diaspora and Africa's Future:  Making a Difference through Research


PAN-APA flyer

March 27, 2017 - Luncheon Series with Jeanine Staples, Ph.D.

Jeanine StaplesJeanine Staples, Associate Professor of Literacy and Language, African American Studies, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

"The Scope and Sequence of White Oblivion (and How It Hurts and Kills People): Identifying & Dismantling White Supremacy Through an Endarkened Feminist Epistemological and Ontological Framework"

Black feminists and womanists have provided a means through which to examine not only the scope and sequences of black women's identities and lived experiences, along with various iterations of sociocultural, socioemotional, and sociopolitical impact, they have also paved ways for deeper revelations about these citizens' countermanding knowledge frameworks and ways of being. These methodologies are often established within antagonistic relational and social circumstances and contexts. An endarkened feminist epistemological and ontological framework, derived from the aforementioned frames, adds depth to these examinations, and understandings of implications. This happens by clarifying a triumvirate of knowing and being that resounds from spiritual, material, and emotional phenomena (re)produced by variations of blackness and femininity. An unintended outcome of these wisdoms points also to the scope and sequence of white oblivion - immaturity within, or detachment from the particular complexities of knowing and being cultivated by Black girls and women and other marginalized members of society. In this talk, I will show the establishment of these cooperating phenomena: how they form and function as the evolution of endarkened feminist ways of knowing and being; their affordances in generating and navigating contentious social and academic terrain; and, as importantly, the results of their omission, i.e. white oblivion. This talk is particularly timely as it also provides a way of interpreting the sociocultural and sociopolitical nuances of the rising Trump Era. 

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.

March 20, 2017 - The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Nontombi Naomi Tutu

Naomi TutuNontombi Naomi Tutu, Human Rights Advocate

"Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism"

Whether in personal life or in the larger society, we have wounds that block our ability to be the wonderful gifts that we are meant to be in the world. We too have inflicted wounds unto others, but all these wounds can be healed. However, it takes courage and the willingness to speak and hear the truth. That first step to healing is so often the hardest. We are afraid to speak our truth for fear of judgment, rejection and anger. We are also afraid to hear truths that might question our images of ourselves. Yet the pain is only the first step, what comes after that is healing and wholeness. Using South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a starting place and model, in this presentation Tutu talks about how we can heal and be healed as individuals and a society.

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

Co-sponsored by Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.

March 18, 2017 - Black Women Rock!


BWR flyer

March 17, 2017 - Public Seminar with Nancy E. Hill, Ph.D.

Nancy HillNancy E. Hill, Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Envisioning a Meaningful Future and Perceptions of the Economy: Supporting Youth to Succeed"

With an ethnically diverse sample of adolescents (N=624), perceptions of the job market and envisioning a meaningful future were tested as mediators of the relations of school relationships and parenting practices on academic engagement.  Using Structural Equation Modeling, job market pessimism and meaningful future mediated the relations between school relationships and engagement. However, parenting practices moderated the relation between job market pessimism and academic engagement.  Students’ reports of increased concern about the job market, coupled with parental emphasis on the importance of education, providing educational advice, and scaffolding autonomy, were associated with lower levels of students’ academic engagement.  Across grade level, school relationships were more strongly related to job market perceptions for 9th graders, compared to 10th & 11th graders; whereas parenting practices were more strongly related to academic engagement for 10th and 11th graders, compared to 9th graders.  Across parent education levels (a proxy for SES), school relationships were more strongly related to job market perceptions and engagement for those whose parents did not have a college degree; whereas parenting practices were more strongly related to academic engagement for those whose parents had a college degree.

Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson
1:15-2:15 p.m.

March 17, 2017 - Workshop with Nancy E. Hill, Ph.D.

Nancy E. Hill, Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, will lead a workshop for our fellow, Olivenne Skinner.

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

March 15-16, 2017 - Every 28 Hours - A Series of One-Minute Plays


Every 28 Hours flyer 2

February 13, 2017 - Luncheon Series with Hsin-Yu Chen

Hsin-Yu ChenHsin-Yu Chen, Ph.D. Candidate, Recreation, Park and Tourism Management

"Exploring the Perceptions of Skin Color and Sun-Related Behavior among African-American Female College Students"

Skin color is a physical trait that plays a powerful, persistent, and influential role in the lives of African Americans (Bond & Cash, 1992; Neal & Wilson, 1989). While well-recognized as a social trigger for racism across different races, skin color also has significant implications within African American populations (Jablonski, 2012). Lighter skin color is deemed as social capital for social status, social mobility, and networking opportunities, which can be converted into economic or educational capital (Hunter, 1998, 2002). Skin color is also a criterion that affects African Americans’ perceptions of beauty and may relate to mate selection and marriage (Bond & Cash, 1992). Because of the privileges and advantages historically bestowed upon African Americans with lighter skin, the preference for lighter skin has persisted across generations and has developed modern colorism, which greatly influences the lives of African Americans, especially women (Coard, Breland, & Raskin, 2001; Keith, 2009; Tatum, 1999). In addition to skin color preference boosting the practice of skin bleaching, African American girls and young women are often advised not to play outside because sun exposure may darken their skin (Golden, 2004; Jablonski, 2012). However, perceptions of skin color, and skin color’s associated meanings, vacillate over time and are shaped by sociocultural contexts (Craig, 2009; Cross, 1991). Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to explore current perceptions of skin color, whether there is still a preferred skin color within the African American community, and potential relationships between skin color preferences and sun-related behaviors among African American female college students.

217 Willard
12:00-1:00 p.m.

February 8, 2017 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS)

Carolyn Roberts, Ph.D. Candidate
Harvard University - African American Studies

“Medical Terror and African Healing in the Atlantic Slave Trade”

The Atlantic slave trade was system that thrived on terror and profound dehumanization. The wastage of human life permeated its existence leaving millions of dead in its wake. Yet, health was a vital commodity in eighteenth-century human trafficking. Biology and economics were cruelly conjoined in the enterprise. Merchants needed African captives to arrive alive in the Americas, and slave traders relied on West African and European drugs, medical care, and medical knowledge to meet this fundamental objective.

This presentation explores the intercultural medical world that developed in the West African slave trading zones and illustrates how British and African medical knowledge and practice adapted to the trade in human flesh. We will discuss how British doctors became human traffickers and how African captives became healers. In the process, the cruel contours of the slave trade changed medicine in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

217 Willard
12:00-1:00 p.m.

February 6, 2017 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS) - Week 2

9:00-9:45 a.m.
Delia Wendel, Ph.D.
Harvard University - Urban Planning

“Reconciliation Taking Place? Conflict and Neighborliness in Post-Genocide Rwanda”

In the last 23 years, the government of Rwanda and its international partners have, through their priorities and projects, maintained that peace is a matter of development. This connection is evident in the country’s villagisation program, which became state policy after the 1994 genocide. The significant ruptures of the genocide would seem to affirm the relevance of villagisation to restore homes, political order, and livelihoods for those that survived and returned to the country. However, these new villages have also produced contested environments that reproduce state interests and locate exceptional challenges to living together after mass violence. To explore the nexus of state peacebuilding priorities and the lived experience of post-genocide cohabitation, this paper centers on a government model village in western Rwanda. The village reveals how people and place intersect to build and un-build peace in rural Rwanda. Three “jurisdictions”—architectural, secular, and religious—are explored as both physical spaces and domains of influence and control. I follow residents’ uneasy contemplations of forgiveness across these domains, illustrating the concept’s force in reconciliation processes and its withdrawal as a sociopolitical act. Residents narrate a range of public and private spaces that foster reconciliation—from community meeting places and churches to the sharing of water tanks and the tending of neighbors’ cooking fires. They employ forms of religious devotion to restore self and home, address memories of violence, cultivate neighborliness, and imagine futures. These practices develop through and against government intervention: in new settlements designed to order relationships between neighbors and a co-opted religious language of “confession” and “forgiveness” in judicial trials and civic education. This case study is part of a larger project, which employed two years of ethnographic and historical research in 36 villages throughout the country, and aims to understand reconciliation as a long-term process that is activated and contravened by rural development.

9:45-10:30 a.m.
Neelima Jeychandran, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles - Culture & Performance

“African Memoryscapes in India: Memorial Shrines, Guardian Spirits, and Sacred Landscapes”

In this talk, I discuss how histories of African presence in India are remembered and reinvented through memorial shrines and repertoires of ritual performances of the Afro-Indian communities and by other marginalized groups in the western Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Gujarat. I focus on two different kinds of religious shrines and associated ritual practices: Hindu shrines dedicated to deceased Africans found along the Malabar and Konkan coasts and Siddi dargahs or tombs dedicated primarily to the Abyssinian Sufi saint Bava Gor and other African martyrs in Gujarat. Well before Europeans ventured into the Indian Ocean World, thriving trade relations with the Swahili Coast brought African seafarers and slaves to port cities along the western coast of India. I demonstrate how shrines for African ancestral spirits and saints provide sites for subaltern heritage at which marginalized peoples perform obfuscated historical pasts of African communities in the present.

10:30-11:15 a.m.
Allison S. Curseen, Ph.D.
Duke University - English

“Four Little Girls: Ante-Development, Blackness & Unruly Dependent Objects”

Taking the mulatta child Frado in Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig as an exemplary illustration, this talk focuses on how considering the physical movement of minors enables us to consider modes of relation and sociality that run apposite the narrow space of normative personhood and American freedom. I regard passing depictions of quotidian physical movements as one might regard depictions of dance, which is to say as expressive articulations that, though indexed by the text, move in excess of the text. Diverging from the tradition of reading Wilson’s novel as a narrative of black development, I posit that these pranks issue forth not the sound of the subject (or even a subject-to-be) but rather the sound of the dependent object. Emphasizing collectivity and the corporeality of the unseen, the pranks ask us to hear underneath the progressive chords of self-improvement, the radical possibilities of dependency and a discordant illegibility.

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Imani D. Owens, Ph.D.
Columbia University - English / Comparative Literature

“Imperial Crossroads: U.S.-Caribbean Literature Literature and the Uses of Folk Culture”

This talk considers the specter of U.S. expansion and its implications for black literary production in and beyond the Harlem Renaissance. In their quests for citizenship and artistic expression, how do writers engage events such as the construction of the Panama Canal (1904-1914), the U.S. Occupation of Haiti, (1915-1934), and ongoing intervention in Cuba? Deeply attuned to the upheavals around them, black writers participate in, challenge, and transform imperial ways of knowing by turning to the innovations of black folk culture—including music, folklore, and embodied ritual. Through readings of several interwar texts, I show that folk culture functions not only a source of inspiration, but also a site of anti-imperial critique. Ultimately I argue that by engaging U.S. imperialism’s various technologies of violence, black writers redefine what it means to be a modern subject in a rapidly changing hemisphere.

12:00-12:45 p.m.
Erin Gray, Ph.D. Candidate
University of California, Santa Cruz - History of Consciousness

“The Incendiary Third Image of Lynching: Santiago Alvarez’s Now! and the Red Summer of 1965”

In 1965, in the immediate aftermath of the Watts uprising, Cuban cineaste Santiago Álvarez circulated a gesture of hemispheric solidarity to the emergent black power movement in his experimental newsreel, Now! Composed of found documentary photographs and film footage and set to the tune of a 1963 civil rights anthem by Lena Horne, the newsreel intervened in the mainstream media response to the L.A. rebellion by framing the insurgency as a political response to anti-black terrorism. Focusing on Alvarez’s incineration of a photograph of the public burning of William Brown in Omaha, Nebraska in 1919, I argue in this talk that Now! turns upon the material and affective power of fire to alter the readability of images of black revolt. Through contradictory image-sound relations and in the physical destruction of the lynching photograph, Álvarez employs a filmic strategy influenced not only by the materialist tradition of Marxist cinema but also by the emergent assemblage aesthetic developed by black artists in the U.S. Álvarez’s employment of what I call photo-dissemblage pushes the newsreel into an expressive genre that sparks in viewers a critical memory of the black international that had long opposed the politics of law and order that were ascendant in the 1960s.

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

February 2, 2017 - Fellows' Professional Development Seminar

Chas Brua and Larkin Hood, Ph.Ds

"Preparing a Teaching Demo"

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

January 30, 2017 - Emerging Scholar Speaker Series (ESSS) - Week 1

9:00-9:45 a.m.
Shannon C. Eaves, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - U.S. History

“Caught in a Web of Pain and Contempt: Consequences of the Sexual Exploitation of Enslaved Women
on Slaveholding and Enslaved Communities”

In my current book project, Illicit Intercourse: How the Sexual Exploitation of Enslaved Women Shaped the Antebellum South, I argue that a culture of rape and exploitation influenced the day-to-day interactions and negotiations between slaveholders and the enslaved. This culture was created and reinforced by the commodification and sexualization of black bodies, resulting in a southern economy that thrived on enslaved people’s sexual reproduction and viewed enslaved women’s bodies as a conduit for economic security. As a result, the South’s legal system, along with cultural attitudes, made it socially permissible, if taboo, for white men to rape, coerce, and sexually harass enslaved women with little legal or social repercussions. The collective consciousness of enslaved women’s vulnerability to this sexual exploitation created a web of pain, insecurity, jealousy, and contempt that entangled both slaves and slaveholders. This talk will illuminate some of the consequences of this tangled web on slaveholders and slaves’ intimate relationships, households, and struggles for power.

9:45-10:30 a.m.
Marcus P. Nevius, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University - History

“‘Born free’: Southside Virginia’s Antebellum Free Black Communities and Petit Marronage”

Since the 1970s, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians have developed two terms – grand marronage and petit marronage – to distinguish between different groups of absconders who fled from slavery. Generally, grand marronage refers to those groups who formed long-standing communities recognized by treaties with colonial powers; this form of marronage existed primarily in the Caribbean and South America. More recently still, historians have examined evidence of marronage in different North American contexts. This talk, drawn from my recent book project “a city of Refuge”: Petit Marronage and Slave Economy in Virginia and North Carolina, 1790-1860, centers petit marronage within the historiography of North American maroons. Through a presentation of my preliminary findings in the Norfolk County (Virginia) Register of Free Negroes and Mulattoes, this talk reveals the ways in which petit marronage reflects yet another facet of slavery and freedom’s complex relationship. While penned in the hand of county clerks, this register reveals the vital statistics of an important free black population in Southside Virginia, a region dominated by the Great Dismal Swamp, and a landscape in which maroons hid and slaves labored concurrently.

10:30-11:15 a.m.
Alaina E. Roberts, Ph.D. Candidate
Indiana University - Philosophy / History

"Defining Freedom: Emancipation in the Chickasaw Nation”

The end of the Civil War brought the former slaves of Chickasaw Indians relief that their involuntary labor was coming to an end, but also a predicament—would they stay in the nation in which they had toiled? Or would they strike out on their own, venturing into other Indians nations or the United States? The choices Chickasaw freedpeople made were symbolic of the geographic and ancestral ties they felt to the Chickasaw Nation. Unbeknownst to them, their choices regarding mobility during and directly after the war would have a crucial bearing on the nationality they could claim, and the practical benefits they could obtain from membership in an Indian nation—land and suffrage. As Chickasaw freedpeople’s family members, support networks, and spaces of memory remained in the Chickasaw Nation, so too did the majority of Chickasaw freedpeople, regardless of the prejudice and instability they faced in the West.

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Stephanie J. Gomez-Menzies, Ph.D. Candidate
University of California, San Diego - Literature

“Performing Antigone: Afro-Puerto Rican Resistance in Public Memory and Local Myth in the tale of Adolfina Villanueva”

On February 6th, 1980, Adolfina Villanueva was murdered by police as she attempted to protect her family from eviction in Loíza, Puerto Rico, a municipality with a large Afro-Puerto Rican population. Adolfina’s protection of her home encapsulates the struggle of race, class, and police brutality for Loíza. Her stand echoes what many in the community see to be their battle: the struggle and sacrifice of Black citizens against the reality of a detached government. This talk, drawn from my dissertation Antigone’s Ghosts: Performance, Thanatopolitics and Citizenship, examines why we should understand Adolfina’s transformation into local myth in the public memory as a performance of Antigone. Adolfina’s life and death has become mythologized in the local community and commemorated by various theatre artists. Specifically, I consider Zora Moreno’s Coqui corihundo vira el mundo (1981) and Rosa Luisa Márquez’s La pasión y muerte de Adolfina Villanueva (1989). In Moreno and Márquez’s rememberings of Adolfina, they espouse a decolonial and transnational feminist perspective that affirms not only a Black woman but a Black mother as a producer of knowledge for the community. The transformation of Adolfina into myth seeks to destabilize the patriarchal myth of the gran familia puertorriqueña by centering a Black, matriarchal figure as the source of strength and resistance in the Puerto Rican public memory.

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

January 23, 2017 - Luncheon Series with Vernelle A. A. Noel

Vernelle NoelVernelle A. A. Noel, Ph.D. Candidate, Design Computing

"Reinterpreting Cultural Design Practices through Technology: Wire-bending and Design in the Trinidad Carnival"

French planters introduced Carnival to Trinidad in the 1780s, but it was reinvented by slaves in the 1830s. Through the Carnival, slaves celebrated their freedom from enslavement, expressed their creativity and aesthetic sensibilities. The carnival articulates cultural practices; forms and sustains local communities; brings different generations and people together; and positively impacts local and global economies. These important aspects of the carnival are in danger however, due to a decline in the production of mas’ by local communities; the lack of advancement in skills essential to design in carnival; and the impending death of one of its major cultural crafts - wire-bending. This work seeks to expand our understanding of this dying craft, help us reinvent how we use technologies to engage with cultural practices largely dependent on embodied and tacit knowledge, and bring technology-conscious publics closer to Trinidad's artistic traditions and its strong ties to the African Diaspora. The term “Trinidad Carnival” does not define its geographic location, but instead its origin and the main elements defining the carnival.

217 Willard
Noon-1:00 p.m.