Bowdoin Symposium to Examine the Field of Africana Studies

Story posted January 31, 2007

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Spirits Watching (detail), a print autographed by David C. Driskell H'89 and dedicated to the John Brown Russwurm African American Center at Bowdoin College.

Leading scholars in the field of Africana Studies will visit Bowdoin College Thursday, February 8, 2007, for the public symposium "Africana Studies: The State of the Field."

Gabrielle Foreman from Occidental College, Kevin Gaines from the University of Michigan, Noliwe Rooks from Princeton University, Ken Warren from the University of Chicago, and Tukufu Zuberi from the University of Pennsylvania will lead an open discussion at 4 p.m. in Thorne Hall, Daggett Lounge.

"The challenges and issues that are part of African-American, Africana, African and Black studies are a critical part of the national dialogue," notes Bowdoin's Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd. "We're honored to host a thought-provoking forum for this discussion at a local level and to bring these eminent scholars to Maine."

A public reception will follow the forum at 6:30 p.m. in Daggett Lounge.

In addition to leading the open forum, the scholars will visit classes and meet with student organizations, faculty, and College administrators for additional discussion.

"Africana Studies: The State of the Field" is sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs and the Africana Studies Program.

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Gabrielle Foreman is professor of English and American studies at Occidental College, where she teaches African American and American literature and culture, as well as issues of social justice. She is the author of Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (forthcoming) and editor of several critical editions, most recently a Penguin Classic's reissue of Harriet Wilson's Our Nig or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (2005). She has published numerous essays in critical anthologies and leading academic journals such as Representations, Yale Journal of Criticism, and American Literary History. She was named a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow for her work with youth and is co-founder of Action for Social Change and Youth Empowerment.

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Kevin Gaines is director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies and professor of history at the University of Michigan. He is author of Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics and Culture During the Twentieth Century (2006), winner of the John Hope Franklin Book Prize of the American Studies Association; and American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era (UNC Press, 2006), named an Outstanding Academic Book for 2006 by the library publication Choice.

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Noliwe Rooks is the associate director of African American Studies at Princeton University. In addition to White Money/Black Power: The Surprising History of African American Studies and the Crisis of Race in Higher Education, she is the author of Ladies Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture that Made Them, a book that explores the social and cultural history of African American women's magazines, primarily from 1891-1950. Her first book, Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture and African American Women, won the Choice award for Outstanding Academic Book. She was also the associate editor of Paris Connections, African American Artists in Paris 1920-1975 (Q.E.D. Press, 1992), which won an American Book Award.

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Kenneth W. Warren teaches in the Department of English at the University of Chicago, where he is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor. He came to Chicago from the English Department at Northwestern University. He is the author of So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism (Chicago 2003), Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism (Chicago 1993), and articles on a variety of writers including W.E.B. Du Bois, William Dean Howells, James Weldon Johnson, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. He is currently Deputy Provost for Research and Minority Issues at Chicago.

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Tukufu Zuberi is the Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations and Director of the Center for Africana Studies at Penn. He has been a visiting professor at Makerere University in Uganda and at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. Zuberi has spearheaded several major research projects, including the African Census Analysis Project, which aims to increase the usefulness and availability of census data to promote a better understanding of African demography. He is the editor of Demography of South Africa, the first volume of a series titled A General Demography of Africa. He is the co-host of the PBS program History Detectives, a nationally syndicated series that seeks to uncover the mysteries of America's past.

Story originally posted January 25, 2007.

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