Monthly Archives: May 2012

Representations of Slavery Symposium Audio Now Online!

Selected images from : Positive Negative Guardian Paperworks via: http://www.lubainahimid.info/

We are happy to announce that audio recordings for the symposium recently held at Newcastle University – Representations of Slavery in Neoliberal Times – are now freely available online.

The recordings of papers and subsequent roundtable discussion are available to listen to on the School of Arts and Cultures webpages, these include:

Alternative Empathies: Representing Slavery’s Affective Afterlives
, Carolyn Pedwell, Newcastle University

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money, 
Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times,
 Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham

To listen to these recordings click here. Thanks to sympoisum organiser Daniel McNeil for letting us know about this great resource.

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Ole Time Carnival in Trinidad

This week’s video feature is a series of three clips called Ole Time Carnival, 1959.

The colour footage is accompanied by the somewhat suspect ‘Ole time’ ‘authoritative’ voice of the ethnographer-journalist akin to that heard over the posthumously completed documentary footage of Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti which similarly ends with a look at Haitian carnival from 1947-1951.

Part one opens with a trio of devilish looking masks grinning out at us who give way to footage of preparations for carnival in 1950s Trinidad – we are told that participants delve into the archives to research their annual creations inspired by cultures, histories and more recent characters as disparate as the Ancient Egyptians, Ivan the Terrible of Russia and Charlie Chaplin.  Contemporary political comment too is visible not least through a large group of participants dressed as a “complete naval taskforce U.S. style” pointing guns at the crowd or hobbling around in drunken groups – the commentator prefers to see this as part of a “theatre of much-happiness” rather than a biting satire on U.S. Imperialism.

Throughout the wealth of costumes and performances shown also present the endless interweaving of histories that Trinidad and the Caribbean region as a whole embodies. Characters and dress inspired by African, European, Asian and (Native) American cultures remind us of historical migrations – forced and otherwise – the cultural clashes, and commodity flows of the transatlantic slave trade and indentured eras of the Atlantic World.  The at times problematic commentary reminds us of the discursive legacies of these systems, while the fluidity of their inter-mingling in the crowd anticipate the continuation of movements across the globe into our contemporary era and the proliferating scholarship of hybridity, diasporas, creolisation and relation.

The comments for each of these videos on Youtube also make for some interesting reading as many commenters respond strongly to the costume and performance presented, harking back to carnival of the 50s to 80s which resembled “street theatre” before the event “deteriorated into a ‘masquerade mockery’ of Brazil”. Whatever your opinion of contemporary Trinidadian carnival though, the beauty and creativity of costume and performance in these videos of “the greatest show on earth” is worth a watch.

African American Studies at Beinecke Library

Rachel Kempf, Yale College Class of 2013

 “Lost in the Zoo: The Art of Charles Sebree”

written for Professor Robert Stepto’s English 306 course, “American Artists and the African-American Book”

Using correspondence from the Countee Cullen Collection, this essay examines the life and work of Harlem Renaissance artist Charles Sebree, focusing on his collaboration with Countee Cullen on the children’s book The Lost Zoo. This essay explores Sebree’s work through the lens of his life experience as evidenced by his communication with Alain Locke during his period of collaboration with Cullen. By comparing documents from the Beinecke’s James Weldon Johnson Collection (MSS 7 Box 2) and correspondence from the Alain Locke Collection at Howard University Moorland Springarn Research Center, this essay reexamines existing explanations of Sebree’s behavior during his collaboration with Countee Cullen and calls attention to the artist’s formative friendship with Alain Locke only briefly mentioned in other…

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International Workshop: Beyond the Line – Cultural Constructions of the Sea

The international workshop “Beyond the Line – Cultural Constructions of the Sea” examines the relationship between land and sea. It investigates how the currently changing constellations in South-South relationships can be understood historically and culturally. If the active participation of the regions south of the Sahara since early modern times is denied, what is the situation today? And beyond that: is it justified in any way to attribute a historical insignificance to regions neighboring Africa on the Atlantic and Indian Oceans? These questions will be analyzed in the framework of a current trend in the social and cultural sciences that is called the “oceanic turn.” The symposium aims to pursue these questions and make its own contribution to them. Participants present the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as a cultural space. Individual panel discussions examine case studies of literature, migration, piracy, and trade cultures. In this way, research results on the sub-Saharan part of Africa will be investigated in their relationship to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and new approaches will be formulated. Conceived by Michael Mann and Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger.

June 22 – 23, 2012

Institute of Asian and African Studies (IAAW)
Invalidenstraße 118, Room 217
Humboldt-Universität Berlin

To view the full programme including paper abstracts click here

Updated Symposium Programme: Representations of Slavery

Please note that the program me for the Representations of Slavery in Neoliberal Times Symposium to be held at the University of Newcastle on Friday 25th May has been updated and will now take place as below:

Selected images from : Positive Negative Guardian Paperworks via: http://www.lubainahimid.info/

Programme of events

1.oopm – Refreshments available

1.10 – 1.15 – Welcome by Conference Co-Convener

Carolyn Pedwell, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

1:15 – 2:15 – Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Chair: Daniel McNeil, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

2:15 – 3:15 – Julia O’Connell Davidson

School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Chair: Anne Graefer, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

3:15 – 3.45 – Coffee break

3.45 – 4.45Carolyn Pedwell,

Alternative Empathies: Representing Slavery’s Affective Afterlives

Chair: John Richardson, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

4.45 – 5.45 – Roundtable

Dr. Kate Manzo (Geography, Newcastle University)

Dr. Diana Paton (History, Newcastle University)

Dr. Rachel Wells (Fine Art, Newcastle University)

Chair: Daniel McNeil

6.00pm – Wine Reception

Northern Stage

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Abstracts

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire

This essentially visual presentation will attempt to show how The Guardian newspaper in 2007, and then just as strongly during subsequent years, constantly suggests that European sports teams and clubs disproportionally overspend when buying, selling and keeping black players.  While this is not an unusual stance by journalists in the British sporting press, The Guardian by frequently and jokily representing footballers and athletes via mocking photographs, degrading texts and or damaging juxtapositions of both, subtly ‘reminds’ its readers, many of whom are public health and social workers, teachers and academics as well as workers in the creative industries, of historically familiar racial stereotypes. The newspaper designers, by taking this approach, contribute to a situation in which the athletes remain within a ‘state of unbelonging’.

Much of Lubaina Himid’s recent creative visual practice has been taken up with building this archive of images and texts. The creation of a series of paper works, Negative Positives, in which ‘over-painting to emphasise’ has gone some way towards reclaiming the dignity of the people represented has however, to some degree, minimalised the findings and rendered them outside the debates they were intended to develop. Through the sharing of a range of these collected images both overpainted and in their original state, many from the year of commemoration 2007, Himid will invite discussion around how this subtle and oftentimes witty degradation of wealthy black elites undermines the campaigns opposed to contemporary slavery while at the same time visually fixing the black person as ‘other’ to be bought and sold.

 

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham

In dominant discourse on ‘trafficking’, mobility, debt and dependence are configured in a very particular way and the kind of debt involved is clearly marked as disturbing, dangerous, illegal, morally wrong. The trafficker’s objective is to make repayment impossible and so to establish personal, inescapable, and highly asymmetrical relations of power and dependency. Relations between trafficker and victim are represented as the very antithesis of freedom – trafficking is frequently referred to as ‘modern slavery’. And yet debt that generates relations of dependency is also often a feature of forms of mobility that are legally sanctioned; debt that compels people to take on work that they would otherwise refuse is hardly uncommon in Western liberal democracies; and the techniques used to recover legally sanctioned loans from citizen-debtors can be highly coercive. But legally sanctioned debt, backed by the coercive powers of the state, is not framed as ‘modern slavery’. Indeed, in neoliberal times, access to credit, i.e., the ability to indebt oneself by entering into socially sanctioned creditor-debtor relations, is a marker of social inclusion, something that both reflects and affirms political belonging and subjectivity. Starting from an interest in debt as a social relation, and in questions about why some debt relations are sanctioned while others are denounced, this paper is concerned with the ways in which liberal discourse on freedom, rights and citizenship constructs particular types of debt and dependency as ‘modern slavery’ while endorsing other arrangements that, from the vantage point of the individual affected, may appear equally if not more pernicious.

Alternative Empathies: Representing Slavery’s Affective Afterlives

Carolyn Pedwell, Newcastle University

Against the dominant universalist injunction to ‘be empathetic’, this paper explores the possibilities  of alternative histories, practices and affects of empathy in the context of postcoloniality and neoliberalism.  Offering a critical reading of Antiguan American author Jamaica Kincaid’s postcolonial  text  A Small Place (1988), it examines how empathy expressed at the margins of our social and geo-political imaginaries might disrupt or refigure some of the dominant ways that affect is thought and mobilised in liberal and neoliberal discourses.  As a powerful commentary on the political, economic and affective links between colonialism and slavery and contemporary practices of tourism in the Caribbean that has provoked intense emotional responses among its readers, A Small Place offers a pertinent site through which to explore how history, power and violence shape the meanings and effects of empathy.  It illustrates how the affective afterlives of colonialism, slavery and racism shape contemporary subjectivities in ways that are not easy to penetrate, nor possible to undo, through the power of empathetic will or imagination alone.  In doing so, Kincaid’s text also considers the role that alternative empathies can play in interrogating the idea of time as linear, progressive and universal.  The continuing dialogue with loss and its aftermath that alternative empathies can engender, I argue, allows for engaging with ‘the performative force of the past’ (Munoz, 2009) in ways that invite us to break from fixed patterns and positionings and enter into a ‘more   demanding’, and potentially more ethical, relationship to the world and our being in it (Kincaid, 1988: 57).  I thus explore how alternative empathies might open out to affective politics which do not view emotions instrumentally as sources of – or solutions to – complex social and political problems, but rather examine diverse and shifting feeling states for what they tell us about the affective workings of power in a transnational world.

CFC: Savvy | art.contemporary.african

Call for Contributions for the 4th edition of savvy|art.contemporary.african. journal.

“Curating: Expectations and Challenges”

Contemporary African Art looks back at a vibrant history of  ‘presentation tactics’ and curatorial conceptualisation strategies within the different frameworks of biennials, independent projects, museum exhibitions, and even ethnographic collections.  Over the last 100 years, the ways of exhibition-making changed profoundly and  particularly within the field of Non-Western art one can perceive a change of parameters of curating – especially since a  generation of Non-Western curators decided to take over the reins and seize the sceptre, which was until the late 80s mostly in the hands of some Western curators, the Western art market and its critique. The debate on “how, who, and where to show” has increased fiercely in the last 20 years. So we now pose the questions again in a bid to deliberate on current curatorial theories and practices in the framework of Contemporary African Art.

What are the prominent issues of display and curating that inform and condition exhibition making? Which curatorial concepts (past or current) do you consider seminal and which improvable? Where and how do artists position themselves in exhibitions authored by curators and can artistic knowledge be implemented as method of curating? What are the relations between artists, curators, public and institutions? Is there a cognizable methodology in curating Contemporary African Art exhibitions with regard to Western or Non-Western curators? How do non governmental art project spaces on and beyond the continent influence and revolutionize the trajectories of curatorial practices? Can the curator effectively serve as broker or facilitator between art and audience?

The 4th edition of the SAVVY Journal will thus position itself as a knowledge-sharing platform, wherein ideologies and philosophies, sciences and economics, ethics and aesthetics  of the curatorial practice discipline,  and in general, the semantics of exhibition making will be elaborated upon. We put the finger on the pulse of  time and want to explore the contemporary expectations and challenges of curating  in general and Contemporary African Art in particular.

Therefore, we invite artists, curators, art historians, theoreticians and other intellectuals to submit texts, not exceeding 3500 words in length, treating the above mentioned issues.

Furthermore, we are interested in other articles such as artist-features, exhibition reviews and previews of circa 1500 words.
For more information please visit www.savvy-journal.com

Submissions to: editorial@savvy-journal.com

Deadline: 01. July 2012    
Contact: editorial@savvy-journal.com with any further questions.

Haitilab Co-Directors Speak

A beautiful work created by Edouard Duval-Carrié collaboratively with researchers involved in Haitilab. Click here to find out more about this artwork: http://fhi.duke.edu/haitiamber/

This week’s video post features two interviews each with one of the co-directors of Haitilab: professors Laurent Dubois (History and Romance Studies) and Deborah Jenson (French and Romance Studies). Haitilab is the first humanities laboratory at John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute of Duke University and is an exciting model for the development and integration of humanities research at universities across all levels from undergraduate upwards. “The lab merges research, education, and practical applications of innovative thinking for Haiti’s disaster recovery and for the expansion of Haitian studies in the U.S. and Haiti … and is also a resource for media outlets seeking to gain knowledge of Haiti.”

Laurent Dubois on “Left of Black”

Mark Anthony Neal (African and African-American Studies, Duke) recently hosted Laurent Dubois on his popular web series Left of Black. The occasion is the recent publication of Dubois’s latest book, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. Among other things, Dubois talked about the rich – and ambivalent – history of African American-Haitian cultural and political connections, from Frederick Douglass’s ambassadorship onward. The Haiti Lab was also on the agenda!”

Office Hours with Deborah Jenson on ‘Recovering Haiti’

In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti Deborah Jenson was interviewed as part of one of Duke University’s regular online features: Office Hours.

Click here to view a rich variety of other great resources produced through Haitilab – including, essays, additional videos and related media coverage.

Both co-directors have recently published new books to find out more click the links below:

Laurent Dubois, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History

Deborah Jenson, Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution