International Symposium “In/Visibility and Opacity: Cultural Productions by African and African Diasporic Women” – Schloss Herrenhausen, Hannover, Germany, July 10-12, 2019

Recent decades have seen intensifying xenophobia, growing anti-immigration rhetoric, and more and more blatant forms of neoliberal racism in many civic societies around the globe; as part of this development, we observe that especially in popular culture and the mass media, women of Global South communities are often depicted as passive victims. Gender issues are presented in ways that allow the West to offer women the opportunity to be rescued from their oppressing “exotic” cultures.
Such representations of gendered cultural markers lead to our investigation in regard to the African-descended women and cultural productions. The symposium’s focus will be on African and African Diasporic women’s experiences, contributions, and cultural productions in reciprocal relationship. By focusing on this reciprocal relationship, we hope to provide several methodological innovations. Our goal with such interventions is to propose a system of theoretical analysis that has not been in place regarding black women as cultural producers. Therefore, we want to ask question such as the following: Have African Diasporic and African Gender Studies, when applied via theoretical frameworks that favor geographically separated approaches, hindered or fostered discourses on African-descended women’s everyday-life experiences? How might we enrich scholarly understandings of affective work by focusing jointly on the experiences and cultural productions by African-descended women in diasporic as well as African settings? What could contribute to new knowledge and new understandings when these often seemingly separated fields approach questions together? How does a transnational awareness generate new or help nurture already existing alliances regarding local political activism?
Since these markers easily imply the danger of sensational representations, we also want to ask about the relationship between subjectivity, authenticity, and objectivity in representation. Therefore, we also ask: Who is doing the act of speaking? And who is the subject that is spoken of?
In addition, we are aware that it is no longer merely enough to say “women” without clarifying or broadening that category. That is to say, we need also to think more explicitly about how queer, trans- and gender nonconforming women of African descent challenge, expand, or modify our definitions about black womanhood and black women’s cultural productions. So, for example, how do narratives of “rescue” (non-Western women as passive victims) break down or simply do not exist when we’re talking about trans women or lesbians who don’t garner the same kinds of “sympathy” as straight & cis-women, nor do these women always qualify for refugee status? Or how is the perceived stability of nations that are based on the “masculine-feminine binary” identified by Judith Butler challenged by queer subjects? Finally, how might the work of scholars who work at the intersections of queer theory, trans theory & Diaspora Studies complicate our notion of black women’s cultural productions and inspire a complex, multilayered, differently intersectional and wholly inclusive theory?
Resulting from our group’s diverse fields of scholarship and expertise, we envision an approach to an intersectional study that is historically comparative (across different time periods), interdisciplinary (across multiple fields), and multi-sited (across different geographic locations).


Wednesday, July 10
Space | Place | Migration
9:00-9:30: Welcome / Opening
Anja Bandau (U Hannover; Germany); Cheryl Finley (Cornell U, USA); Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley, USA), Heike Raphael-Hernandez (U of Würzburg, Germany)

9:30-11:00: Opening Plenary: Making Art, Making Space
Fatou Kandé Senghor (artist, Senegal), Veronica Jackson (artist, USA), Paula Ross (artist, USA/Germany), and Queen Nzinga (artist, Costa Rica), in conversation with Cheryl Finley (Cornell U, USA) and Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley, USA)

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break

11:30-12:15: Towards a Diasporic Aesthetics
Monica Cardim (artist, Brazil) and Mafalda Mondestin (artist, Haiti), in conversation with Anja Bandau (U of Hannover, Germany) and Annika Radtke (U of Hannover, Germany)

12:15-12:45: general assembly discussion

12:45-14:00: Lunch

14:00-15:00: Movement/Migrations: Africa & the Mediterranean
Interlocutors: Heike Raphael-Hernandez (U of Würzburg, Germany) and Josephine Fontaine (U of Würzburg, Germany)

Alessandra Di Maio (U of Palermo, Italy) with Ubax Cristina Ali Farah (artist, Belgium): The Black Mediterranean and Cultural Productions

Kendra Salois (American U, USA) with Soultana (artist, Morocco): “Women’s Work: Expectations of Feminism in the Transnational Hip Hop Market”

15:00-15:30: general assembly discussion

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Remapping Diasporas: Afro-Costa Rican Literature: Narrative, Poetry, and Performance
Interlocutors: Anja Bandau (U of Hannover, Germany) and Natascha Rempel (U of Hannover, Germany)

Paola Ravasio (U of Bielefeld, Germany), Queen Nzinga (artist, Costa Rica), Carla Araya (U of Costa Rica at San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica/U of Hannover)

17:00-17:30: general assembly discussion

18:00-19:30: Dinner

Thursday, July 11
Archives| Living | History
10:00-11:15: Curating History
Interlocutors: Dominique Haensell (Free University, Berlin, Germany) and Cheryl Finley (Cornell U, USA)

Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley, USA): Kathleen Cleaver’s Album of Exile

Yogita Goyal (UCLA, USA): Memorial Aesthetics of Refuge

Temi Odumosu (U of Malmö, Sweden): Project Living Archive

11:15-11:45: general assembly discussion

11:45-12:30: Book Table and Coffee Break

12:30-14:00: Lunch

14:00-15:00: Narratives | Movement | Archives
Interlocutors: Sladja Blazan (U of Würzburg, Germany) and Felix Büchner (U of Hannover, Germany)

Tobias Wofford (Virginia Commonwealth U, USA): Motherland Narratives: African American Women at Pan-African Festivals

Angelita Reyes (Arizona State U, USA): “I’m not throwing away my shot”: Josephine, Aretha, Beyoncé and Diasporic Empowerment

Jasmine Johnson (Brown U, USA): African Dance Constituting the Diaspora in the US and Guinea

15:00-15:30: general assembly discussion

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Touching History
Interlocutors: Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley, USA) and Rahel Kühne-Thies (U of Hannover, Germany)

Jennifer DeVere Brody (Stanford U, USA): In/Visibilty and the Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis

Pia Wiegmink (U of Mainz, Germany): Black on White? Reassessing ‘Tactical Anonymity’ and ‘Double Veiling’ in Eliza Potter’s A Hairdresser’s Experience in High Life

Veronica Jackson (artist, USA): Installation: The Burden of Invisibility

17:00-17:30: general assembly discussion

18:00-19:30: Dinner

Friday, July 12
Text | Texture| Textuality
9:00-10:15: Textures and Textiles
Interlocutors: Julien Bobineau (U of Würzburg, Germany) and Molina Klinger (U of Würzburg, Germany)

Tanisha Ford (U of Delaware, USA): Dressed in Dreams: Black Women and the Power of Fashion

Mutiat Oladejo (U of Ibadan, Nigeria): Women’s Dress and the Nation: Textile Consumption, Politics, and Economy in Nigerian History, 1930-2010

Kerstin Pinther (LMU München, Germany): Freshwater: Gender Fluidity in Contemporary Fashion Design and Literature from Nigeria

10:15-10:45: general assembly discussion

10:45-11:15: Coffee Break

11:15-12:00: Artist Conversation
Fatou Kandé Senghor (artist, Senegal) in conversation with Ibou Diop (Humboldt U, Germany) and Heike Raphael-Hernandez (U of Würzburg, Germany)

12:00-12:30: general assembly discussion

12:30-14:00: Lunch

14:00-15:00: Text and Image
Interlocutors: Cedric Essi (U of Bremen, Germany) and Jennifer Leetsch (U of Würzburg, Germany)

Darieck Scott (UC Berkeley, USA): Nnedi Okarofor’s Wakanda—An African Novelist Writes Superhero Comics

Barbara Webb (Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center, USA): Historical Imagination, Storytelling and Visual Art in Michelle Cliff’s Free Enterprise

Paula Ross (artist, USA/Germany): “Textual Play in the Pictorial Field: Titling titles, Naming names”

15:00-15:30: general assembly discussion

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Abstraction | Figuration | Opacity
Interlocutor: Cheryl Finley (Cornell U, USA) and Hanna Nelson-Teutsch (U of Würzburg, Germany)

Ilka Saal (U of Erfurt, Germany): Kara Walker: The Silhouette as Blickmaschine

Kathleen Sheldon (UCLA; USA): “Down with Bridewealth!” The Organization of Mozambican Women Debates Women’s Issues

Ianna Hawkins Owen (Williams College, USA): “Melting into stationary things”: Idleness and asexual space in the drawings of ruby onyinyechi amanze

17:00-17:30: general assembly discussion

Organized by
Anja Bandau (University of Hannover; Germany)
Cheryl Finley (Cornell University, USA)
Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley, USA)
Heike Raphael-Hernandez (University of Würzburg, Germany)

Beitrag von: Natascha Rempel

Redaktion: Christoph Behrens