2003-2005 Events


Over the past ten years, the African diaspora has become a vibrant research and teaching field, with scholars from multiple continents working across disciplinary and area boundaries to explore the artistic, literary, musical, religious, cultural, political, and historical links that have cross-fertilized the Atlantic world during the past five centuries.

An easily understood and representative category of this new research is in music. We know well that African music became jazz, the blues, and samba in the Americas, but only recently have scholars begun to take seriously the equally important process whereby these forms and their successors returned to Africa to be transformed into high life and Afro-pop, only to come west again in the late twentieth century to inflect contemporary popular music in countries ranging from Brazil, to Cuba, to the United States. Or, to take a quite different example, African religions, including traditional beliefs and Islam, have had important impacts in the cultural development of African American communities in North America, South America, and the Caribbean both historically and as a result of recent migrations from Africa. The fusions of these belief systems and Christianity have produced Santeria and Shango in Cuba and Brazil, as well as Africanized forms of Christianity across the breadth of Africa and in the Americas. Constant flows of religious ideas across the Atlantic among these groups over the course of 500 years have yielded a fascinating panoply of hybrid religious systems that have much to say about the way the human species responds to adversity and crafts understandings of its place and destiny in the cosmos.

Nowhere is the history of this trans-Atlantic interaction and the creation of a cultural African diaspora more evident and accessible than in literature. Questions of identity, which are never far beneath the surface in the music, religion, and visual arts of the African diaspora, are immediately apparent and go to the depth of much of the fiction, poetry, theater, dance, and film produced in the western hemisphere by people of African descent. In literature more than other fields there is a long tradition of diaspora scholarship stretching from the pioneering work of W.E.B. DuBois to that of contemporary literature scholars such as Henry Louis Gates and Nellie McKay. The identity question – Who are we of African descent and is the Africa that is in us essential, oppositional, permanent, glory, shame? – has been central to the literature of the diaspora from the start, and to the comparative study of that literature over the decades.

We suggest that the question of identity, though not so deeply explored in the newer facets of African diaspora scholarship, permeates much of the cultural life of the diaspora and should be at the center of diaspora scholarship generally. Thus the theme of our proposed workshop: Africa in the African diaspora, the diffusion of African identity.



April 28, 2005 | 1:00 – 2:00 pm | 1418 Van Hise

“Africa, Empire, Congo: A Conversation with Adam Hochschild”

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. His first book, Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son, was published in 1986. It was followed by The Mirror at Midnight(1990) and The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin (1994). Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels won the 1998 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay. Hochschild’s books have been translated into five languages and have won prizes from the Overseas Press Club of America, the World Affairs Council, the Eugene V. Debs Foundation, and the Society of American Travel Writers. Three of his books – including King Leopold’s Ghost – have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review and Library Journal. King Leopold’s Ghost was also awarded the 1998 California Book Awards gold medal for nonfiction. Hochschild has also written for the New Yorker, Harper’s, New York Review of Books, New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones (which he co-founded), The Nation, and many other magazines and newspapers. A former commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” he teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. This event is co-sponsored with Center for the Humanities.

April 27, 2005 | 2:00 – 3:00 pm | 206 Ingraham

“Reading Africa: A Conversation with Karen-King Aribisala”

Karen King-Aribisala, award-winning Caribbean and African novelist and short-story writer, reads from her work and shares her diasporic experiences with us.

Karen King-Aribisala, originally from Guyana and now based in Nigeria, is internationally known as an accomplished and award-winning novelist and short story writer. In addition to over a dozen short stories published in reputable magazines such as Black Orpheus, BIM, Wasafiriand Kunapipi; and major anthologies such as Five Nigerian Writers published by the Association of Nigerian Authors, and Into the Nineties: Postcolonial Women’s Writing edited by Anna Rutherford, King-Aribisala has also published the acclaimed collection, Our Wife and Other Stories (1990; expanded and reprinted in 2004 by Laurier Books [Ottawa, Canada]), and the very popular Kicking Tongues, published by Heinemann under its globally famous imprint of African Writers Series in 1998. The novel is an extremely imaginative humorous reworking of the medieval English Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, set in contemporary Nigeria. King-Aribisala continues to be amply recognized for these achievements. Our Wife and Other Stories won the Regional Prize (Africa) for Best First Book in Commonwealth Literature (Toronto, Canada, November 1991). For travel, creative writing and research, King-Aribisala has won grants from the Ford Foundation, British Council, Goethe Institute, and the James Michener foundation in creative writing, and more. She has also had successful reading engagements across continents. She was in Malta for a week in March 2005, and at the African Literature Association conference in Boulder in April 2005. Karen King-Aribisala is Associate Professor of English at the University of Lagos in Nigeria where she teaches Caribbean and African literatures.

April 20, 2005 | 2:00 – 4:00 pm | 206 Ingraham

Adeleke Adeeko, University of Colorado at Boulder, “Slavery, Slave Rebellion, and Cultural Memory: Yorùbá Oríkì contra Early African American Fiction”

March 30, 2005 | 2:00 – 4:00 pm | 206 Ingraham

Jennifer Morgan, “Black Women in Slavery: Demography and the Social History of Colonial America”

February 23, 2005 | 2:00 – 4:00 pm | 206 Ingraham

Lisa Lindsay, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “A South Carolinian in Colonial Nigeria: One Family’s History and the African Diaspora”

February 2, 2005 | 2:00 – 4:00 pm | 206 Ingraham

Stanlie James, “Human Rights: Black Feminist Theorizing Activism–A Conversation with Stanlie James”

December 6, 2004; 4:00 pm; 6191 Helen C. White Hall

Seminar – “Dandyism Across the Divides: Black Cosmopolitanism in Yinka Shonibare’s Photographs” by Monica Miller, Barnard College.

Co-Sponsored by the African Diaspora and Atlantic World Research Circle.

Monica Miller, an assistant professor of English at Barnard College, works in the field of African-American and African diasporic literature and cultural studies. Her current book project is “Slaves to Fashion: Dandyism in the Black Atlantic Diaspora,” a cultural history of the black dandy from its origins in 18th-century England to the present. This study takes a trans-Atlantic focus and traces the movement of the figure from the forced foppery of black slaves in England to America in the colonial period, through its flowering in American blackface minstrel theater, to its subsequent vogue in late 19th and early 20th-century African American and American literature, culminating in its late 20th-century currency as an emblematic figure of black cosmopolitanism. Miller’s essay on “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Dandy as Diasporic Race Man,” published in Calaloo last year, is taken from this project. Co-chair of the Columbia University Seminar on American Stud ies, Miller is the recipient of awards from the Mellon, Ford, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations.

November 12, 2004; 9:30 am – 5:00 pm; Pyle Center, Rm. DE235

Symposium – “1804 in 2004: Legacies of the Haitian Revolution” – For a complete schedule of Symposium events (and abstracts of papers presented), click above.

Sponsored by the Department of French and Italian. Co-Sponsors: Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; African Diaspora and the Atlantic World Research Circle; The Center for International French Studies; and The Professional French Master’s Program. For further information contact Deborah Jenson at djenson@wisc.edu.

October 15, 2004; 1:00 – 2:00 pm; 340 Ingraham Hall

Interactive discussion – “Theorizing Diaspora: Locations and Subject Positions,” by R. Radhakrishnan, University of California-Irvine.

Co-sponsored with the Program in Asian American Studies. Light refreshments will be provided.

R. Radhakrishnan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Diasporic Mediations: Between Home and Location, Theory in an Uneven World, Theorizing the Diaspora: Pedagogies of Immanence, and When is the Political? (forthcoming).

September 22, 2004; 3:00-5:00pm; 206 Ingraham Hall

Workshop – “Diasporas: Theories and Practices” – Selected readings from Global Diasporas by Robin Cohen and The Practice of Diaspora by Brent Edwards.

April 28, 2004; Time & Location TBA

Workshop – “Weapons of the Weak: Resistance and Displacement in Black Cultural Politics” by Michael Hanchard, Northwestern University.

April 16, 2004; 2:15-3:15pm; Great Hall, Memorial Union

Performance – Requiem by Kwame Dawes, University of South Carolina, and John Carpenter.

March 24, 2004; 3:00-5:00pm; 206 Ingraham Hall

Workshop – “The Mission of Diaspora and the Mandates of Academia” by Kim Butler, Rutgers University.

February 25, 2004; 3:00-5:00pm; 206 Ingraham Hall

Workshop – “Identity on the Move in the 18th Century Diaspora: Domingos Alvares-Nango, Cobu, Mina, and Angola” by James Sweet, Florida International University.

January 28, 2004; 3:00-5:00pm; 206 Ingraham Hall

Workshop – “Tattoos, Epilectic Dancing, Oaths, Love Poetry: Diasporic Artifacts and Recognition in the Haitian Revolutionary Era” by Deborah Jensen.

December 10, 2003; 3:00-5:00pm; 206 Ingraham Hall

Workshop – “Fela Anikulapo-Kuti: Popular Political Music, African and African American Relations” by Tejumola Olaniyan.

November 19, 2003; 3:00-5:00pm; 206 Ingraham Hall

Workshop – “African America and Africa: Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs” (both text and performance).

October 22, 2003; 3:00-5:00pm; 336 Ingraham Hall

Workshop reading selections, primarily on definitions and conceptions:

Kim Butler, “Defining Diaspora, Refining a Discourse.” Diaspora 10:2 (Fall 2002): 189-219.

James Clifford, “Diasporas.” Cultural Anthropology 9.3 (1994): 302-38.

September 24, 2003; 12 noon; 206 Ingraham Hall

African Diaspora Studies at UW-Madison. Faculty panel discussion facilitated by Professor Teju Olaniyan, African Languages and Literature, English; Chair, African Diaspora Studies Committee, UW-Madison.