Online Forum: Researching, Teaching, and Embodying the Black Diaspora

Classroom at Boykin Elementary School, Wilcox County, Alabama, 1966 (Bob Fitch Photography Archive)

November 11–15, 2019

Black Perspectivesthe award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting an online forum on researching, teaching, and embodying the Black Diaspora, particularly at elite and predominantly white liberal arts colleges. Contributors’ essays are based on a workshop of the same topic held in May 2019 at Carleton College. This event, organized by Drs. Crystal Moten and Charisse Burden-Stelly, as well as the coinciding pieces explore topics including pedagogy, epistemology, and praxis; non-Black educators teaching the Black Diaspora; resources, inclusivity, and program-building; and numerous others. This forum’s essays explore a variety of approaches to and challenges faced when teaching the African Diaspora and will include a keynote address/essay from Dr. Christopher M. Tinson (Saint Louis University).

The forum begins on Monday, November 11th and concludes on Friday, November 15th.

The forum is organized by Charisse Burden-Stelly (Carleton College) and Crystal Moten (Smithsonian Institution). It will feature pieces from Burden-Stelly, Moten, John Drabinski (Amherst College), Christopher M. Tinson (Saint Louis University), Andrea Stone (Smith College), Alice Reagan (Barnard College), Jesús Gregorio Smith (Lawrence University), Kantara Souffrant (Illinois State University), Rose M. Brewer (University of Minnesota), and Charles McKinney (Rhodes College).

During the week of the online forum, Black Perspectives will publish new blog posts every day at 5:30AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHS) on Twitter, like AAIHS on Facebook, and subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the forum.

About the Organizers

Charisse Burden-Stelly is an Assistant Professor and Mellon Faculty Fellow of Africana Studies and Political Science at Carleton College. She is a scholar of radical Black critical and political theory, political economy, and intellectual history. She recently published W.E.B. Du Bois: A Life in American History co-authored with Gerald Horne, which revises and updates Dr. Horne’s biography of Du Bois with a new chapter on his continuing significance; sidebars that offer connections to larger social, political, and intellectual phenomena; and an appendix that analyzes key primary documents from Du Bois’s archives. Her single-authored manuscript, Epistemologies of Blackness, explores the conjuncture of epistemology, institutionalization, anti-Marxism, and class politics in Black Studies at the dawn of the neoliberal turn. In 2017, Dr. Burden-Stelly received the National Conference of Black Political Scientists’ Alex Willingham Best Political Theory Paper Award. She has several book chapters and articles forthcoming, and her published work appears in journals including Souls: A Critical Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society and The CLR James Journal.

Crystal M. Moten is a historian who specializes in 20th-century United States and Women’s/Gender History with a specialization in African American Women’s History. Her research examines Black women’s struggles for economic justice in the 20th-century urban north. Moten currently works as Curator of African American History in the Division of Work and Industry at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. She is currently working on a book titled This Woman’s Work: Black Women’s Economic Activism in Postwar Milwaukee. Follow her on Twitter @CMMPhD.


About the Participants

John E. Drabinski is Charles Hamilton Houston 1915 Professor of Black Studies in the Department of Black Studies at Amherst College. In addition to authoring four books, most recently Glissant and the Middle Passage: Philosophy, Beginning, Abyss (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) and Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation, Other (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), he has written over three dozen articles on Africana theory and French philosophy, and has edited book and journal issues on Fanon, Godard, Levinas, Glissant, and the question of political reconciliation. He is currently finalizing a translation and critical introduction to Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Raphael Confiant’s Éloge de la créolité, and is working on a co-authored (with Grant Farred) book on the philosophical character James Baldwin’s non-fiction entitled The Negro and the Dialectic. Follow him on Twitter @JDrabinski.

Christopher M. Tinson is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History and Director of the African American Studies Program at Saint Louis University. His research and teaching focuses on histories of Africana radical traditions, US Ethnic Studies, critical media studies, incarceration, and race and sports. In addition to writing for Black Perspectives, his writings and reviews have been published in the The Black ScholarThe Feminist WireRadical TeacherEquity & Excellence in EducationSOULS, and Counterpunch. His first book entitled Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s is published on UNC Press, and was the winner of the inaugural Pauli Murray Prize for best book in African American Intellectual History from the African American Intellectual History Society. Professor Tinson is a highly sought-after speaker and mentor who has led professional development workshops and lectured at numerous college campuses, high schools, and carceral institutions throughout the country. He is an avid lover of basketball, used bookstores, and good coffee. Follow him on Twitter @Dahktin.

Andrea Stone is an Associate Professor of English and Literature at Smith College. Stone teaches literatures of the African diaspora from the 18th century to the present with a particular focus on the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Stone’s book Black WellBeing: Health and Selfhood in Antebellum Black Literature (University Press of Florida, 2016) analyzes North American and Caribbean Black writers’ emphasis on medicine, healthcare, and law in emigration writings, slave narratives, and fiction. Her next book project is provisionally titled Black Prison Intellectuals: The Criminal and Enemy in America. She has presented her research in the United States, Canada, England, France, and Poland. Stone is a member of The Celia Project, A Research Collaboration on the History of Slavery and Sexual Violence. Follow her on Twitter @gogostone.

Alice Reagan is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Directing at Barnard College. She directs new plays and classics with a special interest in works by and about women. Recent directing credits include Hir by Taylor Mac at Shakespeare & Company; Jeune Terre by Gab Reisman through New Plays at Barnard; Grounded by George Brant at Dobama Theatre; Jackie by Elfriede Jelinek at Boom Arts; Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes at Profile Theatre; the musical Promenade by María Irene Fornés and Al Carmines at Barnard; Or, by Liz Duffy Adams at Shakespeare & Company; PHAETON (a diggle of a fragment) by Mac Wellman at Classic Stage Company; and many more. She is the recipient of two Foundation of Contemporary Arts Grants, a Princess Grace Award, and a Princess Grace Special Project Grant. Alice is an alum of Mabou Mines/SUITE Resident Artist Program, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Women’s Project Directors Lab, and the Drama League. She is a member of Wingspace Theatrical Design.

Jesús Gregorio Smith is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at Lawrence University and an Associated Colleges of the Midwest Andrew W. Mellon Fellow. His expertise centers on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality online and how they contribute to health behaviors such as condom use and sexual risk activity. He has written on issues of race and pornography, Latino LGBT issues, sex in the digital age, and race and racism online. He has published in journals such as Porn Studies and Issues in Race & Society and is currently working on an edited volume on the intersections of race and sexuality, under contract with Lexington Books. Jesus received his PhD in Sociology at Texas A&M University and master’s in Sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where he worked for several years as the lead intern on LGBT affairs, including heading SpeakOUT UTEP, an LGBT speaker’s bureau, managing Queer History Month on campus, and creating and establishing UTEP’s first ever Queer Leadership and Academic Development conference, which continues to this day.

Kantara Souffrant is an Assitant Professor of Global/Non-Western Art History and Visual Culture at Illinois State University. She is an artist-scholar, museum educator, and independent curator who brings her passion for community engagement, dialogue, and facilitation to her work as a performer, educator, and community organizer. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, with certificates in Critical Theory, African and Diaspora Studies, and Teaching. Her scholarship examines visual and performance art in the Haitian Diaspora following the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Follow her on Twitter @KinterTara.

Rose M. Brewer is an activist scholar and The Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and past chairperson of the Department of African American & African Studies, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Brewer publishes extensively on Black feminism, political economy, social movements, race, class, gender, and social change. Her books include Rod Bush: Lessons of a Radical Black Scholar (Ahead Publishing, 2019), The U.S. Social Forum: Perspectives of a Movement (Changemaker Publications, 2010), and several other co- edited volumes. She has published numerous essays, book chapters, and refereed journal articles. Her current book project examines the impact of late capitalism on Black life in the US. Brewer has held the Sociologist for Women in Society Feminist Lectureship in Social Change, a Wiepking Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Miami University of Ohio, and was a 2013 Visiting Scholar in the Social Justice Initiative, University of Illinois-Chicago. She is a University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Medalist, a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, a winner of the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Teaching award, and a Josie Johnson Social Justice Award recipient. Her political commitment remains the struggle for transformational social change in the US and globally. She has been a key organizer of the World and the US Social Forums. Follow her on Twitter @Rose_Brewer.

Charles McKinney is the Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College. His primary research interests include the Civil Rights Movement, and the exploration of local movements in particular. His work illuminates the under-researched phenomenon of mass-based protest and community struggle that takes place far removed from the urban centers of the South. His book, Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina (University Press of America, 2010), explored the slow, deliberate building of a movement in a rural community in the eastern-central portion of the state. McKinney has also written a number of articles focusing on school desegregation, electoral politics, and the central role of women in the construction of freedom movements. His next book project, tentatively titled Losing the Party of Lincoln: George Washington Lee and the Struggle for the Soul of the Republican Party, explores the life and career of George Washington Lee, an African American Republican operative and civil rights activist who lived in Memphis in the middle of the twentieth century. Follow him on Twitter @CharlesWMcKinn2.

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