Annual Lecture and Performance Series

Each academic year, the Griot Institute offers the Bucknell community an event series that focuses on a question or issue of concern central to Black Lives and Cultures.

Most years, an academic course is offered to students in conjunction with the series, which seeks to explore and examine the various questions of concern to Black lives and cultures interdisciplinarily in terms of their historical and contemporary resonance and significance. 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.

Most events are followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing by the guest lecturer or artist. The series is open to the University community and the general public.

Griot Spring Series 2024

Joy: Centering and Embracing the Fullness of Black Humanity

The Griot Institute Spring 2024 Speaker Series demands a focus on joy as an indispensable subject of academic and social inquiry. For good reason, we are usually more attuned to Black suffering than to Black joy. A critical challenge raised by Language and Literature Professor Moradewun Adejunmobi is the question, "What would studying African pleasures, beyond censorious judgment, look like?" If we extend this question to the global African Diaspora, what might Black joy look like beyond hypercritical assessment? What would happen if we were approving, sympathetic and admiring of Black joy? As Tracey Michae'l Lewis-Giggetts contends, authorizing ourselves to examine and experience Black joy is an act of resistance.

As scholars, we are trained to critically analyze, identify and disseminate social critiques of the essentialized and problematic. In relation to Black lives and cultures, the perniciousness of racism makes a focus on joy feel frivolous against the physical, social and economic violence daily inflicted on Black people.

Admittedly, joy is complicated. Just Black joy is elusive and entangled with grief, antagonism and brutality. The hazardous precondition of Blackness — resulting from the paranoid perceived threat to Whiteness — leaves Black people in a perpetually perilous state of subjection and subjecthood robbed of joy. Deprived of unfettered joy, Black subjects and Black agents unapologetically make joy through creative expressions of Black humanity, which Arthur Jafa has referred to as "Black visual intonation" and Genevieve Hyacinthe has called "radical virtuosity."

Centering and embracing the fullness of Black humanity demands an intentional and multivalent examination of Black joy. In an effort to explore Black joy as more than frivolous and irresponsible but rather as an essential subject, speakers will discuss — through the various disciplines and intellectual traditions — how one achieves and expresses joy through art, fashion, language, philosophy, social media and more.

Recent Lecture and Performance Series Events

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Contact Details

Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives & Cultures