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September 29-October 1, 2011: Fall Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Welcoming Reception: Wilson Hall, Vanderbilt University, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Remarks: Hortense Spillers, Director of the ICI Project, introduction

Remarks: Dean John Sloop, Associate Dean; the College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilt University

Film viewings begin this evening at 8:30pm at the Embassy Suites, the symposium venue.

A list of the four films:

  • Euzhan Palcy, "Aime Cesair
  • Manthia Diawara, "Who's Afraid of Ngugi?" 
  • Charles Burnett, "Namibia, the Struggle for Liberation" 
  • John Akomfra, "Speak Like a Child"

Friday, 30 September 2011

9:30-9:45am: opening remarks: Hortense Spillers

9:45-11:15am: "Defining the African Diaspora"

Panel 1:

  • Tiffany Patterson, Chair Associate Professor of History, African-American and Diaspora Studies, Vanderbilt University
  • Nahum Chandler, Visiting scholar, Office for History of Science and Technology, University of California, Berkeley
  • Ronald A. Judy, Professor Critical and Cultural Studies, The University of Pittsburgh 
  • Fred Moten, Helen L.Bevington Professor of Modern Poetry, Duke University 

11:15am: Coffee break

11:30am-12:15pm: Q and A (1)

12:15-1:30pm: Lunch Break

1:45-3:15pm: "The Problem of Representation" (1)

Panel 2:

  • Hortense Spillers, Chair, The Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in English Vanderbilt University 
  • Cyraina Johnson-Roullier, Associate professor of Modern Literature and Literature of The Americas, University of Notre Dame 
  • Rich Blint, Ph.D candidate Program in American Studies New York University 
  • Nicole Waligora-Davis, Assistant Professor of English, Rice University 
  • Manthia Diawara, University Professor and filmmaker, New York University 

3:15-3:30pm: Coffee Break

3:30-4:30pm: Q and A (2)

4:45: Recess

8:30 p.m: FIlm showings at Embassy Suites Hotel.

Saturday, 1 October 2011  

10:00am-12 noon: "The Problem of Representation" (2)

Panel 3:

  • Lou Outlaw, Chair Professor of Philosophy and African-American And Diaspora Studies, Vanderbilt University
  • Alice Randall, Novelist and Writer-in-Residence, African-American and Diaspora Studies Vanderbilt University
  • Winfried Siemerling, Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada 
  • Robyn Wiegman, Professor, Literature and Women's Studies Duke University 
  • Ifeoma Nwankwo, Associate Professor, Department of English Vanderbilt University 

Noon-1:00PM: Q and A (3)

1:15-2:45pm: Lunch Break

4:15pm: Free time

7:00PM: ICI Banquet, the Commodore Room, Embassy Suites (the end!)


For the past decade, the “African Diaspora” appears to have displaced Pan-Africanism, the time-honored evocation, as a way to name the enormous geopolitical collective, globally dispersed, that is Africa-related. While Pan-Africanism sought to accord these disparate world populations, cultures, and events a commonality of political aims, “Diaspora” promises to juxtapose them in their discrete historical instance. “Diaspora,” then, not only refers to a welter of facts and historical subjects “on the ground,” so to speak, but has also been transposed into a critical and theoretical paradigm that bears both a short hand and an elaborative possibility. At Issues in Critical Investigation: The African Diaspora at Vanderbilt, “Diaspora” takes on an institutional function that lends a collective name to a number of curricula objects that converge on the study of Africana, or Africanity in its near-endless configurations of meanings and habitations.

The ICI biennial symposium is designed to study the problem of the African Diaspora as a critical, social, historical, political, conceptual, and discursive thematic and to celebrate those participants in the ICI biennial book competition, as well as those colleagues and friends who have encouraged the ICI project by serving as members of its board of readers and the executive/advisory board of the project. 2011 marks the inaugural year of the ICI Biennial and serves as the official introduction of the project to public audiences.

The topic that we have adopted for the 2011 symposium is “Defining the African Diaspora.” Specifically related to it is “The Problem of Representation” by way of the seven arts, with particular attention to the art of the film. We hope to incorporate film showings into the two-day event, as well as film critique from a few film makers.

 Symposium Sponsors

  • African-American and Diaspora Studies, Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Chair
  • American Studies, Teresa Goddu, Director
  • Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Frank Dobson, Director
  • Department of English, Mark Schoenfield, Chair
  • Robert Penn Warren Center, Mona Frederick, Director
  • Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Distinguished Professor of French, Distinguished Professor of African-American and Diaspora Studies, and Director, W.T. Bandy Center for Modern Studies

 Registration for the symposium is now closed.


2015 Manuscript Competition

Important Dates:

December 31, 2013 - February 15, 2014: Open call for applications to the 2015 ICI Book Competition

April 1, 2014: Candidates notified if they are invited to submit a full manuscript

April 1, 2014- May 1, 2014: Manuscript submissions. The full manuscript is due. All submissions must be exclusive to ICI.

May 2, 2014 - May 2, 2015: Round 1, manuscript evaluations

May 2, 2015 - August 31, 2015: Round 2, manuscript evaluations

Fall 2015:  Prize winners will be announced.

September 25-26, 2015: ICI Biennial Symposium, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Program TBA.