Ethnic Studies' 30th anniversary brings varied voices to campus

The ethnic studies department is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a series of speakers offering views into less-known segments of society. All events are free and open to the public.

The community is invited to an evening with Beverly Guy-Sheftall tonight (March 16). The pioneering scholar of African-American and women’s studies will speak on gender and sexuality in ethnic studies at 6:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater.

The founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College, Guy-Sheftall is the incoming president of the National Women’s Studies Association.

She has published a number of seminal texts within African-American and women’s studies, including the first anthology on black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges:  Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1980), co-edited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith. Her newest work, I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde, co-edited with Rudolph P. Byrd and Johnnetta B. Cole, is being released this month by Oxford University Press.

Indigenous Voices
The department is also hosting a Native American Writers series called “Indigenous Voices.” The first event will be a reading by Frances Washburn on “The Power of Words in Native American Literature and Oral Tradition,” at 7:30 p.m. March 26 in 115 Olscamp Hall. There will be a book signing after her talk.

A Lakota/Anishinabe, she teaches American Indian studies and English at the University of Arizona. Her latest novel, The Sacred White Turkey, is drawn from her experiences growing up in and around Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and is scheduled for release in fall 2010.

The final speaker in the series will be Laura Tohé, who teaches at Arizona State University. Her talk, “Notes from the Glittering World,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 16 in 207 Union.

Tohé is Diné and was raised by her family and relatives on the Navajo reservation. She has written and co-authored four books. Her most recent book, Tseyi, Deep in the Rock, won the 2007 Glyph Award for Best Poetry and was named a Best Book by the Arizona Book Association. She is currently working on a book of oral history about the Navajo Code Talkers. Her father was a Code Talker and was honored by the government for his contribution.

Tohé also writes essays, stories, and children’s plays that have appeared in the U.S., Canada and Europe. She wrote a commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, for the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra that made its world premiere in February 2008.

The Native American Writers Series is supported by the Ethnic Cultural Arts Program.

March 16, 2009