2/23/17 IRAAS Undergraduate Open House

OPEN HOUSE: AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM

DATE & TIME:
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017

12:00PM TO 2:00PM

African-American Studies Undergraduate Program
OPEN HOUSE
Room 760 Schermerhorn Extension
12 Noon – 2:00 PM
Refreshments will be served

For additional information contact iraas@columbia.edu or (212) 854-7080

Alumni help us fill-in the blank with your brief note via e-mail iraasalumnicouncil@gmail.com “IRAAS taught me…”

Open house

2/23 – 2/25/17 Pratt Institute – Unity & Struggle Workshop with Tongo Eisen Martin

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Hosted as a part of Pratt Institute’s BlackLivesMatter Teach-In:

Led by Tongo Eisen Martin, the Unity and Struggle workshop will cover realities of late stage imperialism and organizing against it. We will especially focus on consciousness; how do people accept the illusion of a permanent empire or oppressor, what does that counterrevolutionary acceptance look like, and conversely, what is revolutionary consciousness (at least in practice). We will begin to answer for ourselves how do we relate to each other now, and how do we need to relate to each other to win liberation.

RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/sPfx8VEx8xbhBIBV2

For a full list of workshops and events visit www.blacklivesmatterpratt.com

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BEYOND THE BARS 2017: SAVE THE DATE AND REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

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BEYOND THE BARS 2017: SAVE THE DATE AND REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

Save the Date – Beyond the Bars: Transcending the Punishment Paradigm

March 3-5, 2017

The Beyond the Bars Conference, now going into its 7th year, is an annual event that brings together a trans-disciplinary group to advance the work of ending mass incarceration and mass criminalization and building a just and safe society. Each year scholars, students, activists, advocates, policy makers, government officials and those who have been most directly impacted by issues of incarceration and criminalization come together for three days to deepen our collective analysis, strengthen our network of those working for change and make visible the many ways those from the academy and the community can engage in action.

This year’s conference, Transcending the Punishment Paradigm, will address the criminal justice system’s responses to violence focusing on the following four questions:

  1. What are the root causes of violence within communities? What are the root causes of state violence? How do the two intersect?
  2. What is needed to makes communities safe?
  3. What are the existing narratives about people who have committed violent acts? How do we change those narratives?
  4. When violence happens in the community, what are responses that decrease mass criminalization and incarceration and do not rely on the punishment paradigm?

Request for Proposals

Sunday, March 5, 2017, the third day of the Beyond the Bars conference, will feature 90-minute organizing workshops.  These sessions are designed to facilitate skill-sharing, learning, and active engagement.  The workshops are a chance to present the many political struggles connected to mass criminalization, to teach new tools for advocacy, and to connect participants to opportunities for continued engagement beyond the conference.  What skills do you wish more people had?  What do people need to know in order to contribute more effectively to your work?  What are the concrete steps people can take today to support the work that you’re doing?  We are particularly committed to highlighting the voices and organizing done by: people of color, women, queer and trans people, and young people.

We are interested in proposals that touch on various topics related to violence, including:

  • State violence (including policing, incarceration, deportation, and correctional supervision)
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Community Violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Transformative and restorative justice
  • The distinction between “violent and nonviolent offenders”
  • Trauma and healing
  • Interrupting violence and self-defense
  • Reentry

We are looking forward to learning various skills, including:

  • Self care: how do you do this work while dealing with vicarious trauma?
  • Alternate approaches to combatting violence
  • Anti-oppressive organizational practices
  • Creating political campaigns
  • Community organizing and base building
  • Communicating your message (including the use of social media)
  • Coordinating direct actions
  • Arts-based activism
  • Supporting people experiencing state violence (including currently incarcerated people)
  • Fundraising and budgeting
  • Legal advocacy
  • Mediation

We invite proposals for workshops that address one or more of these foundational topics and skills. In your proposal please emphasize tangible take-aways for participants and the ways you will facilitate this through active participation and/or gaining a deeper understanding of an issue.

Accepted proposals will be interactive and bridge the gap from analysis to action. We are especially excited about workshops that provide the opportunity for continued involvement after the conference weekend—either through one’s individual actions or through involvement with a group.

All workshops will be 1.5 hours long and take place on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at Columbia University School of Social Work.

To submit a proposal, please fill out the following form by January 31, 2017: https://goo.gl/forms/5sbCrf63CgArmQbm2

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments at: workshops.btb.2017@gmail.com

3/11/17 Women Picturing Revolution: Focus on Africa and the African-Diaspora

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Sat, March 11, 2017 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST

Columbia University

1255 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS) will host Women Picturing Revolution: Focus on Africa and the African Diaspora, a one day seminar that reclaims and retells history in a manner that is both radical and necessary. From fine art photography made as a personal response to the legacy and locales of slavery, political oppression, and the inability to act, to well-known photojournalists documenting political and social upheavals, this seminar will examine not only the photographs, but also the conditions under which women in and/or from Africa or the African Diaspora make images. In-class content will include analysis of photographic work and projects, partial film screenings, review of related literature, conversations with guest artists, and a look at how contemporary image-makers are using social media. Participants will leave Women Picturing Revolution: Focus on Africa and the African Diaspora with a certificate showing their achievement upon completing the seminar. Participants will also leave with a reference guide equipping them with tools to better understand how women in and/or from Africa or the African Diaspora document resilience, resistance, and creative survival.

This seminar was co-created and will be taught by Lesly Deschler-Canossi and Zoraida Lopez-Diago. The fee for this one-day seminar is $150.00. Please register using the link above.

REGISTER ONLINE

by Columbia University Institute for Research in African American Studies

Faculty Feature – Josef Sorett, PhD

Spirit in the Dark: How African Americans Took Spirituality Mainstream

November 16, 2016
Josef Sorett

Photo by Gabriel Cooney

Spiritual enlightenment can arrive in the unlikeliest of places. For Josef Sorett, it came at an open mic night in a dark nightclub.

It was 1997, and “spoken word was blowing up,” said Sorett, an associate professor of religion and African American Studies and director of Columbia’s Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics, and Social Justice. He was there because “I wanted to see how religion takes shape outside of the spaces we see as religious and how it informed debates on what modern black life should look like.”

A poet recited a piece titled, For All You Church-Going Black Folks. It was a criticism of churches and Christianity, said Sorett, “kind of like Malcolm X’s argument: ‘Christianity is the white man’s religion.’”

It struck a chord with Sorett, who was at Boston University getting a master’s degree in religion and literature. “I went home and wrote a poem as a rebuttal,” he said. It then became the inspiration for his dissertation at Harvard University. Now, those arguments have inspired his first book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics, which looks at the work of prominent African American authors who influenced black thought and culture from the Harlem Renaissance through the Civil Rights movement.

“I argue that modern African American literature, though it’s typically narrated as being secular, is in fact fundamentally religious,” he said. “You have black writers as early as the late 19th century arguing that other black writers should take up the mantle that had been occupied by the preacher to create a new vision of black life,” Sorett said. “A whole host of artists follow that lead into the 1960s, insisting that it is the writer’s job to create new myths for black people.”

Richard Wright, whose bestselling 1940 novel Native Son was the first book by an African American author to be selected by the Book of the Month Club, is just one example. Native Son uses biblical allegory to demonstrate Wright’s familiarity with Scripture. A member of the Communist Party and outspoken critic of race relations, his political leanings overshadowed the novel’s religious themes and language for most literary scholars.

“Many of the figures I mention, like Wright, are the usual suspects for scholars of African American literature, but they were not typically understood as being religious, when many of them were,” said Sorett.

Even writers who were not religious or claimed to be atheists were influenced by religious ideas and practices, particularly Christianity, said Sorett. They used terms like “the spirit” to help reimagine culture for their community.

And while the myth that African Americans are more religious than the rest of the country persists, Sorett posits that this stereotype exists because of socio-economic politics in the early 20th century. “As America grew and increasingly saw itself as secular, modern and progressive, black people were cast as the foil to this progress. Their apparent hyper-religiosity was taken as evidence,” he said.

At this same time, the black intelligentsia, including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Gwendolyn Brooks, were demonstrating that even as some African Americans were leaving religion behind, they were still deeply influenced by and attracted to religious themes.

Music plays an important role in Sorett’s book as well, as many artists and intellectuals have noted and valorized the spiritual nature of some black musical traditions. The book’s title was inspired by Aretha Franklin’s 1970 album Spirit in the Dark, which was released after she had solidified her status as the “Queen of Soul.”

Sorett hopes his book sheds light on the persistent influence of religion—from churches, mosques and botanicas to dancing, singing and trances—on modern black life. “Often we think of spirituality as in opposition to religion,” Sorett said. “To the contrary, there is an undeniable spiritual impulse—and often a distinctive Christian vision—at the center of the black literary imagination, even if it is complicated and, at times, contradictory.”

Watch Amanda Seales ’05 on HBO “Insecure”

 

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(L to R) Issa Rae and Amanda Seales at Insecure Premiere. Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz. Courtesy of Getty Images

Comedian, host, content creator, and more, Amanda Seales doesn’t just want to make you laugh, she wants to make change!  With an uncanny knack for taking serious topics (racism, rape culture, sexism, police brutality, etc.) and with humor,making them relatable and interesting, she combines intellectual wit, enigmatic silliness and a pop culture obsession to create her unique style of smart funny content for the stage and screen.  In other words, she’s a witty woman working to upgrade the world. See more at http://amandaseales.com/bio

Modern-day black women might be described as strong and confident; in other words, just the opposite of Issa and Molly. As the best friends deal with their own real-life flaws, their insecurities come to the fore as together they cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences. Created by co-star Issa Rae and writer/comic Larry Wilmore (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”), the comedy series looks at the friendship of two black women in a unique, authentic way. It features the music of both indie and established artists of color, and touches on a variety of social and racial issues that relate to the contemporary black experience. Source: HBO

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Cast of Insecure on HBO. Photo credit: Allen Berezovsky. Courtesy of Getty Images.

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Russell Rickford, PhD ’03, ’09 Book Talk

DATE & TIME:
MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2016

4:00PM TO 5:30PM

Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination

Teachers College, Columbia University

306 Russell Hall

RSVP: histanded@tc.columbia.edu

Russel Rickford is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University. He is the author of We Are An African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination, Bettt Shabazz: Surviving Malcolm X, the co-author of Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English, and the editor of Beyond Boundaries: The Manning Marable Reader.

Co-sponsored by the Program in History and Education, Educating Harlem Lecture Series, and Institute for Urban and Minority Education.

 

Source: http://iraas.columbia.edu/Event/we-are-african-people

CONGRATULATIONS! Faculty Member Dr. Kellie Jones Wins MacArthur Foundation Fellowship

IRAAS CONGRATULATES FACULTY MEMBER, DR. KELLIE JONES ON WINNING THE MACARTHUR GENIUS FELLOWSHIP.

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Kellie Jones is an art historian and curator deepening our understanding of contemporary art of the African Diaspora and securing its place in the canons of modern and contemporary art. Her research and curatorial practice, which span large-scale museum exhibitions with extensive catalogues as well as scholarly books and articles, have been instrumental in introducing the work of now seminal black artists (such as Martin Puryear, David Hammons, and Lorna Simpson) to wide audiences and bringing to light long-forgotten or overlooked black artists.

Through the exhibition Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction, 1964–1980 (2006)—which highlighted numerous black artists working in abstract painting or sculpture—and her scholarly work on African American conceptualists, Jones has prompted a reevaluation of the view that African American art of the period was predominantly figurative or representational. At the same time, she refuses to treat the work of black artists as an isolated phenomenon, instead drawing on a keen attention to cross-cultural aesthetics and a highly developed sensitivity to the formal properties of art objects to integrate their work into the broader artistic production of the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980, she both unearthed the histories of previously unknown Los Angeles–based black artists and contextualized their work alongside West Coast artists of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Jones’s exploration of interracial differences and racial solidarity among the artists in Now Dig This!reflects her ongoing interest in the ability of art to shape and advance communities, a theme she returned to in Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties (2014). With over 100 works by a diverse set of artists, Witness revealed distinct aesthetic strategies informed by but also responding to the struggle for racial justice, while also making a powerful case for the role of art in the civil rights movement. Through an array of critical interventions, Jones is writing the history of African American art and redefining the contours of American art history in general.

Kellie Jones received a B.A. (1981) from Amherst College and a Ph.D. (1999) from Yale University. She held curatorial positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem (1981–1983), Jamaica Arts Center (1986–1990), and Walker Art Center (1991–1998); was U.S. Commissioner for the Bienal de São Paulo (1989); and was a curator of the Johannesburg Biennale (1997). She was on the faculty of Yale University (1999­–2006) prior to joining the faculty of Columbia University, where she is currently an associate professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. In addition to her books,EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art (2011) and South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (forthcoming, 2017), Jones has authored essays in such journals as Artforum and Third Text and numerous exhibition catalogs.

 

Source: Columbia University, Institute for Research in African American Studies & MacArthur Foundation

Black Photographers of NYC- A Panel & Reception Wednesday July 13

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

612 SCHERMERHORN HALL

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY(MORNINGSIDE CAMPUS)

Black Photographers of New York

A panel and reception with Kamoinge Photographers Danny Dawson, Russell Frederick and Ming Smith

Moderated by Grace Aneiza Ali

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 Image by Russell Frederick

Kamoinge, a pioneering photographic collective, was formed in New York in over 50 years ago  to address the under-representation of black photographers in the art world. Kamoinge’s body of work spans the past 50 and included numerous images of daily life in black America in New York City during the last half of the twentieth century.

 

This panel is part of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS) 2016 Summer Teachers and Scholars Institute (STSI), entitled “The Many Worlds of Black New York.” This portion of the STSI is free and open to the public. To  learn more about the STIS please visit columbiastsi.com or email stsi@columbia.edu .