2006-2007 Events

  • Thursday, April 12 – The Border and Transcultural Studies Research Circle presents Rejin Leys:  L150 Elvehjem, at 4:00pm “Contemporary Haitian American Art: The Work of Rejin Leys”

Rejin Leys is a Haitian-American mixed-media and book artist. She received a BFA from Parson’s School of Design in 1988 and an MFA from Brooklyn College in 2000. Her books, prints, drawings and installations explore such themes as labor, migration, and social and environmental justice. Leys participated in such artists’ collectives as Coast-to-Coast, National women artists of Color, and Kouran, a New York based group of young Haitian artists. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally

Rejin Leys’s work combines social and political commentary with an exploration of materials and techniques not usually seen in traditional Haitian art. In this presentation, we will look at this work in the context of works by Haitian and other African diaspora artists.

Co-sponsored by the Department of French and Italian, LACIS, African Diaspora and the Atlantic World Research Circle, Visual Culture, and the Art History Department. With support from the Department of International Studies, International Institute, and Global Studies Program.

This paper examines the genesis of the Black Consciousness slogan “black man you are on your own” during the last years of the 1960s and first of the 1970s. It suggests that this was a diaspora project in that South African students consciously placed themselves in the world: in Africa, in the wider community of color and, more fundamentally, in the student politics of the 1960s.

It follows words and ideas to suggest how meanings translated from context to context and challenges attempts to ascribe a universal meaning to concepts like “black” and “African.”

In 1960, two African American academics, Hugh Smythe and Mabel Smythe, published a sociological study called The New Nigerian Elite.

Hugh Smythe, formerly a research assistant to W. E. B. Du Bois, had conducted research in Nigeria in 1957-58 on a Ford Foundation fellowship, and two years later co-directed the volunteer program Crossroads Africa with the Reverend James Robinson.

Like many who studied Africa during this period, the Smythes were greatly interested in modernization and national independence.

How would African colonies make the transition to sovereignty?

What choices would they make in constituting their nationalities?

Who would lead and how?

What would be the leadership group’s sources of legitimacy?

Maroonage and resistance was not only an omnipresent response to the brutality of slavery, but the development of multi-ethnic national identities through these processes shaped the entire Atlantic world from the sixteenth century onward.

Naturally, this process of resistance did not begin on American soil.Some scholars of African history have pointed to the similarities between certain communities that developed in the wake of the violence of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Africa and Maroon communities in the Americas.

In this essay, I examine the formation of national identities in the case of the Kromanti in the British Caribbean in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the Kisama in Angola in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.This comparison reveals a broad strategy of identity formation in these two Maroon societies that allowed for Africans to mobilize effective political responses to the terror and brutality that surrounded them.

Given his artistic style, educational background and prominent government position, Enwonwu was fully immersed in an elite level of British colonial discourse.

Moreover, he utilized his status and connections to promote himself as an artist while inspiring populations globally. Enwonwu produced the portrait in honor of the Queen’s three-week tour of Nigeria that began in Lagos on January 28, 1956.

It is a common belief that the British Colonial Government selected the artist to sculpt the portrait, but unsealed documents in the Public Records Office in London reveal that it was Enwonwu himself who initiated the commission with Colonial representatives.

  • March 2 and 3 – “Cosmopolitan Cultures, Cosmopolitan Histories” An Interdisciplinary conference at the Pyle Center, featuring internationally renowned speakers including Etienne Balibar, Sheldon Pollock, and Pheng Cheah. The conference is hosted by the UW Cosmopolitanism Mellon Seminar with support from the Center for the Humanities Sponsored by the Anonymous Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Co-Sponsored by ADAWRC (African Diaspora and Atlantic World Research Circle), English, French and Italian, and German Departments, UW-Madison. Click here for information on Conference Description and Program