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"The African Americas"

University Museums exhibit, symposium and set of courses – Fall 2011 (ANTH, FLLT, ENGL, University Museums)

An interdisciplinary program on the African Diaspora in the Americas.

The African Americas project seeks to convey the magnitude, diversity, and impact of the African Diaspora in the Americas. In particular, the program will explore the deep and lasting connections between Latin America, the Caribbean, and black artists, intellectuals, and institutions in the United States. The program is deeply interdisciplinary, bringing together artists, musicians, and humanities scholars in music, art, art history, literature, anthropology, and history.

The program is accompanied by two semester-long undergraduate seminars, “Sugar, Salsa and Santería,” taught by Persephone Braham in Foreign Languages/Latin American & Iberian Studies, and “Representations of Slavery in the Americas,” taught by Pier Gabrielle Foreman. The symposium is held in conjunction with an exhibition by Jamaican-American artist Keith Morrison, “The Middle Passage” on view from September-December 2011 in Mechanical Hall, the home of the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art. The symposium also coincides with: Latino Heritage Month; the 40th anniversary of the Black American Studies program, newly designated a department; and the 35th anniversary of the Center for Black Culture.

The African Americas Project is sponsored by the Delaware Humanities Forum, the Paul R. Jones Initiative, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, Latin American & Iberian Studies, Area Studies, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Departments of Anthropology, Art History, Art, Black American Studies, Foreign Languages & Literatures, History, Music, and Women’s Studies, and the Institute for Global Studies.

Persephone Braham, Associate Professor of Spanish and director of the Latin American & Iberian Studies program, received her B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Pennsylvania. Braham teaches literature and culture courses with a focus on Afro-Hispanic and Caribbean themes. She is the author of Crimes Against the State, Crimes Against Persons: Detective Fiction in Cuba and Mexico (Minnesota, 2004) and numerous articles on Latin American literature and culture.

UD Associate Professor of Art Colette Gaiter received her M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University and her BFA in Graphic Design from Carnegie-Mellon University. She is a multimedia artist, graphic designer, and writer. She has worked with computers since 1982 and in interactive multimedia since 1990. Her digital media work has also been shown at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and in numerous galleries, museums and public institutions in the United States. Gaiter has exhibited multimedia works internationally in SIGGRAPH and ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Art) exhibitions. Her current creative work and research focus on Cuba, where she has traveled several times in recent years. After working as a graphic designer in Pittsburgh, Washington, DC, and New York City, Gaiter began teaching at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1986. Since then she has taught at Columbia College in Chicago in the Interactive Arts and Media department, and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Her writing on the Black Panther artist Emory Douglas has appeared in several publications and she is working on a documentary about his work.

Julie L. McGee, Ph.D. is Curator of African American Art at the University Museums and Associate Professor of Black American Studies. McGee received her B.A. in Government and Legal Studies and History of Art from Bowdoin College and her Ph.D. in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College. A former Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, she has written and lectured extensively on African American Art and contemporary art in South Africa. Her research addresses issues of primitivism, postcolonialism, canon formation and apartheid theories and praxes. Her best-known publications are David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar (Pomegranate, 2006), and the documentary film, The Luggage is Still Labeled: Blackness in South African Art, co-produced with artist Vuyile Voyiya.

McGee has held numerous teaching and consulting positions including at Bowdoin College, Tulane University, the University of Missouri and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and will serve as Dorothy K. Hohenberg Chair of Excellence in Art History at the University of Memphis for 2011-2012. Among the exhibitions she has curated at UD are “Discursive Acts: African American Art at UD & Beyond” (2008); “Jacob Lawrence in Print 1963-2000” (2009); “Sound: Print: Record: African American Legacies” (2009); “Abstract Relations” (2010); “Her Story: Margo Humphrey Lithographs and Works on Paper” (2010); and the upcoming “Keith Morrison: Middle Passage” (2011).