Resident Lecture Series

Presentations started promptly at 12:00 pm [Online via Zoom]

Save the date for the upcoming Spring talks!

March 9: Nergis Erturk, Associate Professor of Comparative Lierature.

Register here to access the link to Livestream.

Writing in Red: Literary and Revolutionary Encounters Across Turkey and the Soviet Union

Writing in Red traces the literary and exilic itineraries of Turkish communist and former communist writers shaped by the history of Turkish and Soviet state relations of “cultural diplomacy,” the Comintern policies, and waves of arrests, detentions, and repressive crackdowns aimed at the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) during the first half of the twentieth century. Bringing together a wide range of writings, Writing in Red argues these works belong as much to Turkish literature as to a transnational Soviet republic of letters and a global archive of “world revolution.” I suggest that in devising a universalizable politics of language, revolutionary time, sexual ethics, and a humanist ontology, Turkish communist and ex-communist writers recorded a prehistory of contemporary dissent.

March 16: Michelle Sikes, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, African Studies, and History.

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Kenyan Running imageChoosing to Run: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Pioneers of Kenyan Women’s Distance Running

Kenyan men have claimed Olympic medals, world records, and international titles since the 1960s. In contrast, competitive success for decades eluded female Kenyan runners, though a select few were able to win major races, travel the world, and gain economic independence and social status beyond the norm. This study asks how and why these women, with economic resources thrust upon them, chose to reproduce patronage politics of ethnicity and with what consequences. The study builds on Africanist historiography, in particular John Lonsdale’s influential ideas around moral ethnicity, to understand the nature of social cohesion, gendered roles, threats to stability, and responses to those threats, which together create an opportunity to see how women negotiated new roles as competitive athletes and community patrons. It is a story of challenge, trouble and triumph, and a very important ostrich feather.

March 23: Abigail E. Celis, Marian Trygve Freed Early Career Professor in French and Francophone Studies, Assistant Professor in African Studies

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Bringing Home the Body: Mame-Diarra Niang’s Ethérée 

Dakar, 2014. In a backyard garden, artist Mame-Diarra Niang digs a grave and sits beside it for an afternoon,folding paper maps of an imagined sanctuary. Niang orchestrated this performance, called Ethérée, in response to a hate crime: the disinterment of a queer Senegalese man’s corpse from a local cemetery. Niang’s performance offers an imagined space of belonging for those who, like the young man and like herself, might be denied the final resting place of the earth’s embrace because they are considered less than fully human. This talk will analyze Ethérée to lift out the different threads that Niang weaves together, showing how the queer homecoming the performance enacts is entwined with colonial histories of segregating and categorizing bodies. The performance’s quiet labor of mourning, I ultimately argue, seeks to repair not only the pain of alienation, but recalibrate the biocentric and anthropocentric vision of ‘the human’ that animated colonial strategies of domination.

March 30: Timeka N. Tounsel, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Media Studies.

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Marketing Dignity: The Commercial Grammar of Black Women’s Empowerment

This talk explores the system of visual and ideological elements that advertisers use to woo Black women in the contemporary Black Girl Magic era. Relying heavily on Black women marketing professionals, these multiplatform promotional campaigns work to convince their target market that an empowered lifestyle can be bolstered, celebrated, and maintained through the appropriate purchases. With a focus on Procter & Gamble’s My Black is Beautiful and Ford Motor Company’s Built Ford Proud, I probe what these campaigns signify and what they do for Black women and for the corporations that fund them. Ultimately, I interrogate whether the grammar of empowerment, merely presenting Black women as magical, yields political agency.

April 6: Kirt H. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Communication & Sciences.

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Constraining the Performance of Emancipation: Mimetic Embodiment and the Abolition of Slavery

In this presentation, Dr. Kirt H. Wilson argues that emancipation--the fact or process of becoming free from slavery—is best understood as the mimetic embodiment of communal social and rhetorical conventions that signify the ideal of freedom. In the Nineteenth Century, the mimetic enactment of these ideals by people of African descent in the West Indies and the United States revealed both freedom’s performative character and its inherent instability. Black mimetic behavior threatened Anglo-American control of emancipation; consequently, white leaders redefined the meaning and significance of Black mimêsis from a conventional performance of freedom and liberty into an unconventional and inauthentic mimicry of white ideals.

April 13: Christopher Heaney, Assistant Professor of History.

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Inherent Corruption: Curating Andean Mummies in the Anthropocene

For eight millennia, peoples on the western coast of South America harnessed their environment to preserve the dead, making ancestors who marked their place in time and the cosmos. After the Spanish invaded the Inca empire in 1532, this entwining of bodies and environment became an object of repressive study, later populating museums in the Andes, Americas, and Atlantic World with what Europeans came to call “Inca mummies.” Export, however, subjected these “mummies” to changes in climate and context that could reactivate decay, requiring museums to reflect on what curation could not preserve. This talk is a microhistory of how one such “Inca mummy” went from a port in Chile to an unmarked grave in Belgium in 1899—an itinerary suggestive of how animate bodies registered and confronted the dislocations and violence of climate, colonialism, and collection in the Anthropocene.