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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Michelle Wright will give the talk, "Black, But Not Like You: Race and Representation in the Age of Obama," on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, is the 24th Annual Black Experiences Lecture, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender (CSREG).
"Professor Wright's talk will explore many timely questions," said Susan Reed, associate professor of women's and gender studies and anthropology, and CSREG director at Bucknell. "For example: What does it mean to define oneself as Black? What does it mean to define oneself as African-American? Are these two identities always the same?
"Looking at how Barack Obama's identity has been defined both by himself and others, Wright will argue that there are in fact a broad variety of black identities that any one individual can possess, and that it is often our relationship to specific events in history that can determine where — and even when — one is black."
Wright, who is associate professor of African-American studies at Northwestern University, teaches courses in African-American studies, gender and sexuality in the African Diaspora, race and literature in the 19th century, and African-American literary criticism and theory. She holds degrees in comparative literature from Oberlin College and the University of Michigan.
Born and raised in Western Europe, including a brief time in Rabat, Morocco, Wright focuses on the literature and philosophy of the African Diaspora, especially in the Anglophone, Francophone and Germanophone worlds.
Her publications include Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2004); Reading the Black German Experience, edited with Tina M. Campt, Duke University, in a special issue of Callaloo: Journal of African American and African Literature; and "Pale by Comparison: Black Liberal Humanism and the Postwar Era," invited submission for Black Europe and the African Diaspora, an anthology edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Stephen Small, and Trica Keaton, (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Her work in progress is The Physics of Blackness: Rethinking the African Diaspora in the Postwar Era.
While at Bucknell, Wright will participate in a faculty colloquium, "Black Studies at the Crossroad: World War II vs. the Middle Passage." In the colloquium, she plans to discuss "what I see as a key turning point in the performance of blackness both within the U.S. as well as the Black Diaspora as a whole: World War II and the postwar era. While Middle Passage discourses most often take the slave trade as the origin of black identities in the West, what I call the 'Postwar Epistemology' mediates black identity at a time of moral ambiguity — state-sanctioned destruction and killing — as well as a moment in which the vast majority of Africans and peoples of African descent were in some way connected."
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