Spring 2017 Lecture and Performance Series

Our spring semester series will engage the campus community and beyond in an extended conversation about the black body from multiple disciplinary perspectives. The series, Black Body (Re)Considered, is rooted in questions about the intersections of identity, race, gender, sexuality, historical context, and agency, particularly as they concern representations and realities of the black body as impacted by racism, as well as aesthetic, economic, sociological, and psychological inequalities. This conversation is particularly critical in light of the crises of the present moment, which are linked to and inextricably derive from the realities of the past. The series is made possible by the support of the University Lectureship Committee.

Series Guest Speakers and Artists

Bayo Holsey

Bayo HolseyThe Black Body as Embodied Memories: Retelling the Slave Trade in West Africa
Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, Elaine Langone Center (ELC)

Professor Holsey’s talk examines accounts by American authors and public figures of visits to West African slave sites. In particular, she considers the development of a slave-trade narrative tradition in which writers provide intimate accounts of the slave experience, detailing both its effects on the body of the slave and the effects of its memory on their own bodies. The talk asks, What are the politics and outcomes of such embodied knowledge of slavery?

Bayo Holsey, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies and Cultural Anthropology at Rutgers University. Her work examines the public history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in West Africa and the African diaspora. She is the author of Routes of Remembrance: Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana, which won the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology and the Association for Third World Studies’ Toyin Falola Africa Book Award. Currently, she is completing a second book entitled Afterlives of Atlantic Slavery: History, Ethics, and Racial Politics in the New Millennium.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Nona Faustine Simmons

Nona Faustine SimmonsThe Black Body as Art
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

Reconstructing a narrative of race, memory and time. Nona Faustine's artistic practice starts where intersecting identities meet. Through the family album and self-portraiture she explores the inherited legacy of trauma, and body politics on the black female within photography and history.

Nona Faustine is a photographer and visual artist based out of Brooklyn, NY. She received her MFA from The International Center of Photography at Bard College. She is widely known for her unprecedented and powerful series “White Shoes,” where she poses, wearing nothing but white pumps, in various locations throughout New York City that were landmarks of enslavement. In her own words, “I document myself in places where the history becomes tangible. Acting like a conduit or receptor, in both protest and solidarity, with people whose names have been forgotten and whose contributions remain unacknowledged.”

Co-sponsored by the Department of Art & Art History

Rosamond King

Rosamond KingThe Black Body: Caribbean. Queer: Beyond Stereotypes
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

The Caribbean (and often specifically Jamaica) is regularly referred to as “the most homophobic place on earth.” Through an examination of recent Caribbean legal cases and studies of homophobia in the region, as well as activism and creative work by Caribbean sexual minorities, this lecture will deconstruct the stereotypes of the Caribbean, revealing a place that is neither paradise nor hell for LGBTQI people.

Rosamond King, Ph.D. is an artist, creative writer, poet, and performer. She is currently associate professor of English at Brooklyn College. She is a scholar of African and Caribbean sexuality, literature, and performance. One of her most esteemed works is the book Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination, which won multiple awards. In addition to her successful work and performances around the world, King also serves the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at CUNY’s Graduate Center, Audre Lorde Project, and Organization of African Women Writers.

Co-sponsored by the Department of English

Harriet Washington

Harriet WashingtonThe Black Body and Medicine
Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

From the 17th-century advent of Africans to what would become the United States until the present day, their bodies have been forcibly appropriated, exploited, injured and subjected to indignities for the furtherance of medical and political agendas that did not benefit them. This medical indenture consistently parallels larger sociopolitical policies: When chattel enslavement was the law of the land medical enslavement was rife; when both de jure and de facto segregation were widely enforced, medical segregation barred both black patients and black physician/healer from hospitals and other centers of healing; and now, when inequitable access still haunts multiple spheres of influence, unequal access to medical care remains a challenge. Professor Washington will illustrate these realities with past and present dynamics in the realm of medical experimentation and how they threaten our welfare.

Harriet Washington is an award-winning medical writer and editor, and the author of the best-selling book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. In her work, she focuses mainly on bioethics, history of medicine, African-American health issues and the intersection of medicine, ethics, and culture. Medical Apartheid, the first social history of medical research with African-Americans, was chosen as one of Publishers’ Weekly Best Books of 2006. The book also won the National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award, a PEN award, 2007 Gustavus Myers Award, and Nonfiction Award of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It has been praised in periodicals from the Washington Post and Newsweek to Psychiatric Services, the Economist, Social History of Medicine, and The Times of London.

Nyle Fort

Nyle FortThe Black Body and Religion
Wednesday March 8, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

Since the tragic shooting death of Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, organizers, faith leaders, and community members from across the country have united under the banner Black Lives Matter to protest police brutality and systemic racism. This talk will explore the moral and spiritual dimensions of Black Lives Matter. Particular emphasis will be given to questions concerning the role of the Black Church, the politics of Black spirituality, and the sacredness of Black life.

Nyle Fort is currently a Ph.D. student in Religion and African-American Studies at Princeton University. He is widely known for his activism in Ferguson, Missouri to further advocate for the Movement for Black Lives. Fort is devoted to his community and has initiated and established efforts such as Newark Books and Breakfasts which provides books and a meal to youth and their families. He travels nationally and internationally intersecting various movements for freedom and civil rights. Fort received his B.A. in English from Morehouse College and Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also serves as a minister, organizer, and scholar.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies

Harvey Young

Harvey YoungThe Black Body and Performance
Wednesday, March, 22, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

From racial profiling to wrongful death, African Americans have been targeted and abused in the United States for centuries. In this lecture, cultural historian Harvey Young addresses how acts of violence involving African American children, women, and men not only have conspired to create an experience of blackness and but also have inspired a politics of resistance and activism.

Dr. Harvey Young is a Professor of Theatre, Performance Studies, African-American Studies, Radio/Television/Film and the Chair and Director of the Theatre Department at Northwestern University. His research focuses extensively on performance and race. His published works include Embodying Black Experience and Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Chicago Theater (co-authored with Mecca Zabriskie). Dr. Young has served on the Association for Theatre in Higher Education as president-elect, as well as in organizations such as Northlight Theatre and African-American Arts Alliance of Chicago.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Theatre & Dance

Abby Dobson

Abby DobsonPerformance and Workshop
Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

Abby Dobson's performance, discussion and workshop will focus on her work with the Say Her Name Project, created by the American Policy Forum to address Black women's experiences of police violence in an effort to support a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice that centers all Black lives equally. The evening will provide an opportunity to appreciate and to acknowledge the stories of Black women who have lost their lives to police violence.

A Sonic Conceptualist Artist, Abby Dobson’s sound is the alchemy of R&B/Soul, jazz, classic pop, classical, gospel, blues and folk, forging a gem that erases musical boundaries. Abby has performed at legendary venues such as S.O.B's, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, The Apollo Theater, Joe's Pub, Blue Note Jazz Club, and The Tonight Show (Jay Leno). Abby won BlackPlanet.com's Soul Beach Music Festival's First Annual Competition and was featured in GIANT Magazine's September 2009 issue as an artist to watch. She was featured three times as a singer/songwriter at the New York Songwriter's Circle and was a finalist in the R&B category of the John Lennon Song Writing Competition for her song "Deeply," which was featured on television shows "The Shield,” "Jack & Jill" and "Any Day Now." Abby has also lent backing vocals to artists ranging from John Legend to Talib Kweli. Abby also performs with Dr. Guy’s Musiqology, a Philadelphia based band led by pianist and composer Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.

Co-sponsored by the 2017 Diversity Summit; the Departments of Music, Theatre & Dance, and Philosophy; the Teaching & Learning Center; and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Gender.

Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy RobertsKilling the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7 p.m.
Forum, ELC

Published in 1997, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty documents a long history of regulation of Black women’s bodies in the United States, beginning with the legal status of enslaved women as property, and explains its crucial importance to both reproductive and racial politics in America. Twenty years later, these devaluing ideologies, laws, and policies have expanded in new guises that help to perpetuate race and gender injustice in the health care, law enforcement, welfare, and foster care systems. At the same time, the rise of an exciting reproductive justice movement has provided a new framework for envisioning a more humane and equitable society. In her talk, Professor Roberts will discuss the changes during the last 20 years as well as the struggles that remain.

Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science, and Society. An internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual, and social justice advocate, she has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of gender, race, and class in legal issues and has been a leader in transforming public thinking and policy on reproductive health, child welfare, and bioethics. Professor Roberts is the author of the award-winning books Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty and Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, as well as co-editor of six books on constitutional law and gender. She has also published more than 100 articles and essays in books and scholarly journals, including Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Stanford Law Review. Her latest book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century, was published by the New Press in July 2011.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology & Anthropology

George Yancy

George YancyBlack Bodies/White Gazes
Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 7 p.m.
Gallery Theatre, ELC

In this talk, Professor Yancy will discuss how racism continues to exist in our contemporary moment and will demonstrate that we are far from having reached a "post-racial" America. He will argue that fearless speech and fearless listening are critical tools greatly needed in order to confront the proverbial elephant in the room. Drawing from philosophy and from popular film, Professor Yancy will provide historical examples of how the Black body was seen (and treated) as a "problem body," and will show the ways that the question of how it feels to be a Black problem (raised by W.E.B. Dubois) is linked to the power and privilege of whiteness. He will conclude by exploring what it means to be white in a white supremacist country. Professor Yancy, most recently listed on the infamous Professor Watchlist, will pull from responses to his controversial article, "Dear White America," to reveal the vile nature of white racism contemporarily viz-a-viz the black body.

George Yancy is professor of philosophy at Emory University. His work focuses primarily in the areas of critical philosophy of race, critical whiteness studies, and philosophy of the black experience, especially regarding questions of racial embodiment. He has authored, edited, or co-edited over 18 books, which include Our Black Sons Matter; Exploring Race in Predominantly White Classrooms; Pursuing Trayvon Martin; Look, A White! Philosophical Essays on Whiteness; and Critical Perspectives on bell hooks. Professor Yancy is well-known for his influential interviews and articles on the subject of race at The Stone and the New York Times.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy


About the Griot Institute’s Annual Lecture and Performance Series

Each academic year the Griot Institute offers the Bucknell community a series that focuses on a question or issue of concern central to Africana Studies. The series seeks to explore and examine various questions in terms of their historical and contemporary resonances and significances. The series interrogates these questions from multiple disciplinary perspectives and employs the expertise and artistry of guest lecturers and performers in order to navigate their intellectual nuances and moral and ethical dimensions. The series is free and open to the Bucknell community, as well as the general public.

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