Africana Studies Colloquium focuses on Caribbean

Scholars and students from around the country will gather at BGSU Friday (March 20) for the annual Africana Studies Colloquium. The daylong program will center on “African Diaspora in the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean.”

Jualynne Dodson

Now in its 11th year, the colloquium provides students in a variety of disciplines the opportunity to present papers addressing African and African diaspora themes. “This year’s conference promises to be unique and exciting in terms of the range of research topics, keynote focus and the number of student presenters from within and outside the BGSU campus. They include undergraduate and graduate students from Miami University and the states of California, Texas, Michigan and Indiana,” said Dr. Apollos Nwauwa, director of the Africana Studies Program.

Giving the keynote address at the noon luncheon will be Dr. Jualynne Dodson, a professor of sociology and religious studies and director of the African-Atlantic Research Team at Michigan State University. She will discuss “The African Diaspora in the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean: The Case of Cuba,” beginning at 12:15 p.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Dodson, who also teaches in the graduate program in African and African-American studies at Michigan State, is a leading scholar in the field of culture and religions of Africana people in the Americas, particularly Cuba and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Among her many academic experiences, Dodson has been the dean of seminary life at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was founding director of the Research Center at the School of Social Work at Atlanta University, and was a research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.

Looking at religion as an organizing force in society, Dodson’s research revealed that the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church had congregations in Cuba as early as 1893. She began a comparative investigation of the role of the black church in social transformation movements in Cuba and the United States. She has conducted field research into Cuba’s various indigenous religions and their Africana-centric orientation and worldview.

Moderated by faculty members from BGSU and the University of Detroit Mercy, with presentations by students, the colloquium research panels will address the topics:
• Demographic Perspectives on Africa, 9-10:15 a.m., 201 Union
• Perspectives on African Societies, 9-10:15 a.m., 207 Union
• Perspectives on African-American Lives, 10:30-11:45 a.m., 201 Union
• Perspectives on Caribbean Africana Lives, 10:30-11:45 a.m., 207 Union
• Contextualizing Obama: The Idea of a Black Man or Woman in the White House, 1:30-2:45 p.m., 201 Union

The Africana Studies major at BGSU is an interdisciplinary program with an international scope. It offers courses in the historical, artistic, cultural and political aspects of people of African descent throughout the world. Students may study abroad in Ghana, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Benin, and learn about the Gullah culture in South Carolina during a spring-break trip. Graduates of the program are in teaching and research positions around the U.S.

The colloquium and the 12:15 p.m. keynote address are free and open to the public. The cost for the Caribbean-themed luncheon is $9.95 plus tax and includes a grilled chicken salad, bread and beverage. A vegetarian Cobb salad meal is also available, for $8.95 plus tax. Payment may be by cash, check (made out to BGSU) or BG1 Card. To reserve, contact Mary Wrighten by this afternoon (March 16) at 2-7897 or Indicate your meat or vegetarian preference and include your P00 number.

March 16, 2009