Griot Spring Series 2023
The Griot Institute theme for 2022-2023 is Legacies: Bridging Centuries, Unearthing What Carries Forward.
Legacies are loaded with contradictions. At once full of privilege, possibility, challenge and the weight of the past, legacies make demands of us in the contemporary world. Carried by each of us, legacies shape how we experience the present day as well as the future.
Questions we will ask and think through regarding legacies include:
- Do legacies extend across centuries or are they made anew each generation?
- To what extent can people reshape legacies?
- In what ways do legacies shape people’s lives, survival and futures?
- How are legacies unearthed when many people’s experiences and contributions are excluded from official archives?
- How do we – and should we – archive legacies?
- What legacies do we choose to narrate or curate and which ones do we ignore?
- To what extent do legacies provoke social consciousness and activism?
- How do we arrive at consciousness of legacies that allow us to create and realize better futures?
This theme draws inspiration from James Baldwin and Saidiya Harman.
“I pray I’ve done my work so that when I’ve gone from here, in all the turmoil through the wreckage and rumble, when someone finds themselves digging through the ruins, they’ll find me. Somewhere in that wreckage, they’ll find something they can use, that I left behind. And if I’ve done that, then I’ve accomplished something in life.” – James Baldwin
“Every generation confronts the task of choosing its past. Inheritances are chosen as much as they are passed on. The past depends less on 'what happened then' than on the desires and discontents of the present. Strivings and failures shape the stories we tell. What we recall has as much to do with the terrible things we hope to avoid as with the good life for which we yearn. But when does one decide to stop looking to the past and instead conceive of a new order? When is it time to dream of another country or to embrace other strangers as allies or to make an opening, an overture, where there is none? When is it clear that the old life is over, a new one has begun, and there is no looking back? From the holding cell was it possible to see beyond the end of the world and to imagine living and breathing again?” – Saidiya V. Hartman
“To remember what they had lost and what they became, what had been torn apart and what had come together, the fugitives and refugees and multitudes in flight were called the Sisala, which means ‘to come together, to become together, to weave together.” – Saidiya V. Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route