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Friday, October 26, 2012

Bridging the Gap: African Diaspora Studies, Area Studies and the Disciplines Symposium

Carleton College's Program in African and African American Studies is hosting a symposium, "Bridging the Gap: African Diaspora Studies Area Studies, and the Disciplines" scheduled for February 15th and 16th, 2013. Guest speakers will include Professors Jean Rahier, Bruce Whitehouse, and Marlon Bailey.

Bridging the Gap: Outline of Symposium:
African Diaspora Studies, Area Studies, and the Disciplines
A symposium to be held at the
African and African American Studies Program
Carleton College, Northfield MN
Feb 15-17, 2013
This past May, an African Diaspora conference entitled "Bridging the World" was held in Pretoria, South Africa, attempting to connect business and policy movers and shakers on the continent with members of overseas diaspora communities. We propose a scholarly symposium, "Bridging the Gap," to address the sometimes fruitful, sometimes uncomfortable tension in marriage of African and African American Studies. African Studies has long been thought of as an area studies field, defined in spatial terms. African American Studies, as conceived in the U.S. academic environment, is based on an ethnic studies logic, and yet still contains a spatial definition (variably within the U.S., North America, or the Americas). And yet we find increasing research, both on campus and in the broader scholarly community, on peoples of African descent in spaces that fall within other area studies fields--Latin America, East and South Asia, the Middle East, Europe. As part of our effort toward the revitalization of Carleton College's African and African American Studies Program, we invite a conversation among leading figures in the field of African Diaspora Studies to explore ways of bridging the gaps among the studies of people of African descent--on the African continent and elsewhere, in communities of varying historical depth.
Overarching Theme: How can African Diaspora Studies, which does not think of itself in terms of geographic borders, provide a conceptual bridge to studying the varieties of African experience within traditional area studies, disciplines, and in different historical eras?
Day One (Friday Feb. 15)--dinner and a lecture
Keynote speaker Prof. Jean Rahier, Florida International University: (to explain diaspora studies, its conceptualization and major theories, and define its potential and limitations)
Guiding Questions: What is "diaspora"? How do we conceptualize the African diaspora, or African diasporas? Why did the term, African diaspora, emerge only in the 1960s? What tensions exist in African Diaspora Studies?
Day Two (Saturday Feb. 16)--African Diaspora Studies meets Area Studies
Theme One: Conceptualizing African Diaspora Studies
Morning session I: A panel discussion on conceptualizing African Diaspora Studies and their relation to area studies, the disciplines, and other interdisciplinary fields
Speakers: Jean Rahier, Bruce Whitehouse, Marlon Bailey
Guiding Questions: What narratives undergird various approaches within African Diaspora Studies (e.g. a narrative of movement across space, of diasporic nostalgia and longing for a spatially-conceived homeland, or a narrative that moves away from spatial conceptions toward diasporic subjectivity)? Are these narratives opposed or complementary? How do they relate to more traditional ways of dividing up the scholarly and curricular world into disciplines and area studies? How do they relate to other interdisciplinary programs on campus (e.g. women's and gender studies, environmental studies, ethnomusicology)? Do they build a bridge among African Studies, African American Studies, and the study of peoples of African descent in other parts of the world?
Format: short position statements, respondent(s), and a broader, participatory discussion
Theme Two: African Diaspora Studies meets Area Studies
Purpose: The late morning and afternoon sessions would illustrate the relationship between ADS and select area or interdisciplinary studies.
Format: In each session we'd have one (or two) guest speakers to illustrate their work, followed by engaging Carleton faculty in thinking about what aspects of their own research and teaching can gain from--and give to--ADS. This may be best achieved through a paper-respondent-open discussion format.
Morning Session II: Overlooked Communities: African Diaspora Studies on the African Continent the Middle East
Speaker: Prof. Bruce Whitehouse, Lehigh University
Guiding Questions: What potential can we draw from African Diaspora Studies to bridge disciplinary and area studies frameworks in the study of often overlooked communities of peoples of African descent in the Middle East, within African domestic diasporas, and in diasporas resulting from contemporary movement across national borders on the African continent?
Afternoon Session I: Nos ancêtres les philosophes de négritude?: African Diaspora Studies in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe
Speaker: Prof. Jean Rahier, Florida International University
Guiding Questions: What communities of peoples of African descent have and do exist in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe? How might African Diaspora Studies help us find connections among the experiences of these diverse groups?
Afternoon Session II: Intersections across Interdisciplinarities: African Diaspora Studies and Gender/Sexuality Studies
Speaker: Prof. Marlon Bailey, Indiana University, Bloomington
Guiding Questions: African Diaspora Studies is not the only interdisciplinary field to straddle disciplinary and area studies divisions. What potentials for mutual enhancement exist between ADS and women, gender and sexuality studies? In what ways could this serve as a model for the relationship between ADS and other interdisciplinary fields?
Saturday evening--Dinner and a wrap up discussion
Guiding Questions: What can we draw from these discussions to strengthen Carleton's African and African American Studies Program, within the means that we have? What inspiration can we draw for our own scholarly pursuits? What bridges can we thus build among faculty (and students) in both scholarship and teaching?
(departure Sunday morning, February 17)
Click here to RSVP.