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Past Symposia: The 3rd ICI Biennial


Our Last Symposium: The 3rd ICI Biennial
September 24-26, 2015: Biennial Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee
“The African Diaspora in the World”


Thursday, 24 September, 2015

ICI Executive Board Meeting, Sarratt Student Center, Room 363


    Lunch Break: 12:00-2:00PM

     Meeting: 2:00-4:00PM

6:00-8:00PM: Welcoming Reception: Kirkland Hall Lobby (second floor)

                        Introductory Remarks: Hortense J. Spillers, ICI Program Director


Friday, 25 September

Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Auditorium

9:00-9:30AM: Opening Remarks: Hortense Spillers

9:30-11:00AM: Panel 1: “Diasporic Citizenships”

                Moderator: Rich Blint (Columbia University)

  • James Amemasor (New Jersey Historical Society Archives): “A Taste of Freedom: The Benjamin Major Collection of Letters from Emancipated American Slaves in Liberia, 1836-1851”
  • Carlos Alberto Valderrama Renteria (University of Massachusetts at Amherst): “Mobilizing Black Cultural Forms Against Racism in Colombia”
  • Emily Rutter (Ball State University): “’this is how you citizen’: Documenting Racial Trauma in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric

11:00-11:15: Coffee break

11:15-12:45PM: Panel 2: "Creole Languages and Performances”

                Moderator: Hortense J. Spillers (Vanderbilt University)

  • Adrián Rodríguez Riccelli (University of Texas at Austin): “Administration, Centralization, and the Role of the State in the Formation of a Creole Language: The Case of Guinea-Bissau Creole”
  • Sandro Sessarego (University of Texas at Austin): “The African Diaspora and Chocó Spanish: A Socio-Historical, Linguistic and Legal Account”
  • Tiffany Austin (Florida Memorial University) and Destiny O. Birdsong (Vanderbilt University):  “Written by Our Selves: Rearticulating the Craft of Non-Mobile Corporeality”

12:45-2:00PM: Lunch Break

2:00-3:30PM: Panel 3: "Spaces and Places: Locating the Diasporas"

                Moderator: Ronald Judy (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Daniel Benyousky (Baylor University): “The Strange Glimmer of the Twilight: Potentiality through Tension in the Works of Jacques Derrida and Derek Walcott”
  • Duncan M. Yoon (University of Alabama): “Looking East: Afro-Asian Affiliations Then and Now” 
  • Lorelle Semley (College of the Holy Cross): “The Political Theater of Dakar’s 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts”

3:30-3:45PM: Coffee Break

3:45-5:15: Plenary I: Cheryl Wall (Rutgers University)

                                “Diasporic Encounters in the Non-fiction of James Baldwin and June Jordan”

5:30-7:00PM: Dinner provided

7:00-10:00PM: Film Viewing: Dreams are Colder than Death

                          Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Auditorium

Saturday, 26 September, 2015   

Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Auditorium

9:30-11:00AM: Panel 4: "Testifying to Diaspora"

                Moderator: Winfried Siemerling (University of Waterloo)

  • Meina Yates-Richard (Rice University): “ReSounding Echoes of Trauma: Diasporic Testimony in Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy
  • James Kiwanuka-Tondo and Keon Pettiway (North Carolina State University): “Born in Africa: Philly Lutaaya’s Cultural Re-Memory of HIV/AIDS in Global Context”
  • Winfried Siemerling (University of Waterloo): “Transformation of the Real and the Work of Critical Black Canadian Memory Culture”

11:00-11:15AM: Coffee Break

11:15-12:45PM: Panel 5: "Revolutionary Networks”

                Moderator: Lucius Outlaw (Vanderbilt University)

  • Cyraina Johnson-Roullier (University of Notre Dame): “Anna Julia Cooper's Lighted Torch and the Problem of Blackness in Revolutionary France and Haiti."
  • Adam Ewing (Virginia Commonwealth University): “Popular Pan-Africanism: Rumor, Identity, and Intellectual Production in the Age of Garvey”
  • Darla Migan (Vanderbilt University): “The Black Aesthetics of Adrian Piper”

12:45-2:00PM: Lunch Break

2:00-3:30PM: Panel 6: “Diasporic Attachments”

                Moderator: Nicole A. Spigner (Columbia College, Chicago)

  • Brian Bobbitt (University of Texas at Austin): “Gender, Hegemony, and the Right to Movement: Loosening of the ‘passionate attachments’ in Mohamed Bouissef Rekab’s El motín del silencio
  • Scott Barton (New York University): “FIFA vs. As Baianas de Acarajé and the Politics of the Cultural Imaginary”
  • Nicole A. Spigner (Columbia College, Chicago): “The Monstrous Mother Creative Principle in Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s A Modern Undine

3:30-3:45PM: Coffee Break

3:45-5:15: Plenary II: Nahum Chandler (University of California at Irvine)


7:00PM: Closing Banquet, The Watermark Restaurant



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. 2015 marks the second session of the ICI Biennial Symposium and serves as a continuation of the project to public audiences.

The theme of this year’s Biennial Symposium, “The African Diaspora in the World,” aims to offer an interdisciplinary study of the histories and cultures of Africa and its global diasporas. Particular emphasis is placed on the intersections and connections among the various communities of African descent and the practices shaping experiences of diaspora. In this sense, performance cultures, creole language formation, foodways, and artistic expressions play a vital role in describing and defining “The African Diaspora in the World.””

 Symposium Sponsors

  • African-American and Diaspora Studies, Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Chair
  • American Studies, Ifeoma Nwankwo, Director
  • Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Frank Dobson, Director
  • Department of English, Dana D. Nelson, Chair
  • Robert Penn Warren Center, Mona Frederick, Executive 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