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Symposium Explores Black Europe, African Diaspora

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April 11, 2006 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A two-day symposium titled “Black Europe and the African Diaspora” will bring some of the best-known scholars in African American Studies, history, the African Diaspora, political science, literature, art and other disciplines to Northwestern University’s Evanston campus April 21and April 22. Scholars from across the nation and Europe will participate in the conference.

The free and public symposium will take place Friday, April 21, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the first floor of Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road. From 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, the symposium will be held in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive. Saturday, April 22, events will begin at 9 a.m. and will take place solely at McCormick Tribune Center Forum.

The study of the African Diaspora characteristically involves an examination of the relationship between “the West” and “Africa,” with the New World seen as the terrain on which that relationship plays out. Instead of looking at the New World, however, the Northwestern symposium will focus on black Europe as a conceptual, cultural and political phenomenon. It will explore the ways in which “Europe” has figured, and been reconfigured -- geographically and symbolically -- as a presence and space in the African Diaspora.

Symposium conveners are Northwestern University Board of Trustees Professor Darlene Clark Hine, a leading historian of the African-American experience who helped establish the field of black women’s history, and Indiana University Assistant Professor Trica Keaton, author of “Muslim Girls and the Other France: Race, Identity Politics, and Social Exclusion.”

The symposium begins with a panel on “Conceptualizing Diaspora” from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Friday, in Harris Hall. The symposium then will move to the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, where Hortense Spillers, Cornell University Whiton Professor of English will deliver the Leon Forrest Lecture. The lecture is named for the late novelist and beloved Northwestern professor of African American Studies and English.

Dwight McBride, chair and Leon Forrest Professor of African American Studies, will introduce Spillers. The author of “Black, White, and In Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture,” Spillers will speak on “In the African Diaspora Today: Problems and Propositions.” A 6:15 p.m. reception will conclude Friday’s events.

Saturday events, all of which will be held in McCormick Tribune Center Forum, will begin at 9 a.m. with a panel on “Creating Blackness.” It will be followed by an 11:45 a.m. panel on “Belonging and Membership.” After a one-hour lunch break beginning at 1:45 p.m., a panel on “Black Europe and the African Diaspora” will take place from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.

The symposium will close with a plenary from 5 to 6 p.m., during which Northwestern historian Hine will introduce Stephen Small. He will deliver a lecture titled “The Empire Strikes Back! Class, Gender and the Black Presence in Europe.” Associate professor and chair of African American Studies at University of California Berkeley, Small is co-author of “Race and Power: Global Racism in the Twenty-First Century.” A reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. will follow his lecture.

For more detailed information, visit <http://www.afam.northwestern.edu/blkeurope/> or call (847) 467-0269.

Topics: Campus Life