“Performing Africana Arts and Culture” Symposium Delves Into Cultural Legacies

Africana cultural legacies provide the focus for the 15th annual Africana Studies Symposium on April 5-7 at UNC Charlotte.

The symposium, titled “Performing Africana Arts and Culture: Repression, Resistance and Renewal,” features scholarly presentations, workshops, a film and a round-table discussion on the contributions of Africana performative arts to critical liberal arts education.

“This year’s Africana Studies Symposium will explore the African cultural legacies in the Americas; the intersections of history, performativity and resilience in Africana cultures; and the intellectual-discursive project of body/kinetic movement in Afro-Brazilian, Vodou and Orisa dances,” says Akin Ogundiran, chair of the Africana Studies Department in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Umi Vaughan, an associate professor of Africana Studies at California State University Monterey Bay, will provide keynote remarks on Thursday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Cone University Center, McKnight Hall. An artist and anthropologist, Vaughan explores dance, creates photographs and publishes about the African Diaspora culture. He holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan and has conducted extensive anthropological research in Cuba about Afrocuban music and dance. A reception will follow.

Thursday’s events begin in Robinson Hall, Room 118 at 9 a.m. with opening remarks, followed at 9:30 a.m. by a panel discussion on “Africana Music in Urban Spaces.” Workshops follow on “Afro Haitian Dance and Social Justice in the Classroom,” “Afro Brazilian Dance,” “Assessing Your Archetype through Orisha Dancing,” and “Performance, Revolution, and Vodou.”

The panel discussions “Slavery and Burial Practices” and “Performing Gender and Resistance” are on the symposium agenda for Friday, April 7 in Cone University Center, Room 210, along with the screening and discussion of the short film Celebrating the Water Goddesses.

“The conference brings in scholars considering Africana culture as a tool of resistance and as a means of celebration.” says Danielle Boaz, assistant professor of Africana Studies, who is primary organizer of the symposium. “In order to have a deeper understanding of Africana culture, we need to examine it in all these contexts.”

Through the expression of ideas of injustice and oppression art, these ideas can lead to a renewal of culture. Africana practices, such as dance, music, clothing, and visual and expressive arts, continue to play a role in societies as a method of expression and building identity in a modern world, conference organizers say.

The symposium is jointly presented by the Department of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Department of Art and Art History and Department of Dance in the College of Arts + Architecture, with support from the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund and the two colleges.

All on-campus programs of the symposium are free and open to the University community and the public. A roundtable lunch on Friday requires pre-registration. For more information, please review the conference poster or visit the Africana Studies Department website.

Image of Umi Vaughan: Keba Armand Konte





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