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New Directions in African Diaspora Studies

a lecture series featuring the works of prominent scholars in the field of african diaspora studies

2013-2014 New Direction Lecture Series


Theme: Keywords in African and African Diaspora Studies.

Spring 2014

February 20, 2014

"Archives/Violence: Issues of Temporality, Scale and Representation"

Deborah Thomas, Devlin Hall 101, 4:30 pm

Deborah Thomas will discuss the issues surrounding the creation of visual archives of state violence, in order to make some preliminary arguments about the role of visual culture in producing, reproducing, challenging, and/or undermining a sense of collectivity, as well as revealing something about the temporalities to which this imagining of collectivity is tethered. 

(keyword = VIOLENCE)


Deborah Thomas is a professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica, Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (Duke University Press, 2011), and is co-editor of Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness (with Kamari Clarke).

March 13, 2014


"Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics during WWII"

Farah Griffin, Devlin Hall 101, 4:30 pm

This lecture will explore notions of migration, mobility and movement in African American Studies and recent turns toward theorizing “stillness” as an opposing critical category. 

(keyword = MOBILITY)


Farah Jasmine Griffin is a professor of English at Columbia University. She is the author of Who Set You Flowin’: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) and Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). She is also the editor of Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends: Letters from Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus (Knopf, 1999) co-editor, with Cheryl Fish, of Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African American Travel Writing (Beacon, 1998) and co-editor with Brent Edwards and Robert O'Meally of Uptown Conversations: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia University Press, 2004). Her most recent book "Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics during WW II" was published in 2013 by Basic Books.

Fall 2013

September 25, 2013

Justice for Some: Reflections on (Every) Americans' Right to Legal Representation

Dawn Porter, Devlin Hall 008, 5 pm

Dawn Porter (Producer/director of "Gideon's Army" [2013 Sundance Film Festival, U.S. Documentary Competition, Official Selection]) will explore race, class, legal representation, and the American Criminal Justice System.

(keyword: JUSTICE)


October 9, 2013

"African Literature Doesn't Exist"

Taiye Selasi, Gasson Hall 305, 4:30 pm

Taiye Selasi will argue that the practice of categorizing literature by the continent its creators come from-rather than by it content and/or creative innovation-is specious.

(keyword = AFRICA)

Taiye Selasi is an author, photographer and filmmaker. Born in London and raised in Boston, Selasi holds a BA in American Studies from Yale and an MPhil in International Relations from Oxford. Her debut novel, the New York Times bestseller Ghana Must Go (Penguin, 2013), has been sold in over 15 countries and heralded as a "once in a generation debut." In 2013, Selasi was named to Granta's prestigious list of Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in Rome.  


November 13, 2013

"Noble Strains: Thoughts on a Hybridized Identity" (Hybridity)

Nelly Rosario, Devlin Hall 101, 4:30 pm

Nelly Rosario’s hybrid talk presents a mash-up of genres to explore the benefits and pitfalls of hybridity as identity in these “post-racial” times.

(keyword = HYBRIDITY)

Nelly Rosario is the Dominican-American author of Song of the Water Saints, winner of a PEN/Open Book Award. She earned an MFA from Columbia University and a SB from MIT. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and publications, including Callaloo, ReviewChess LifeMeridiansThe New York Times, and el diario/La Prensa, where she is a columnist. Rosario is on faculty at Texas State University's MFA Program and is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program at MIT, where she is also associate director for the Blacks @ MIT History Project.