Black Arts International: Temporalities & Territories

Black Arts International: Temporalities and Territories is the third of the initial three conferences proposed by the Black Arts Initiative—the first focused on Chicago, and the second focused on the United States.  This conference will focus on art and scholarship of the black diaspora around the world.  The key themes of the conference engage notions of time, space and place and the ways in which black art plays a pivotal role in and has been influenced by historical epochs such as colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade, modernity and post-modernity, industrialization and globalization; and, geopolitical contexts where art has reflected the conditions of a specific place. Some of the questions the conference will engage include: How has history shaped black artistic production outside the US? How do non-western forms of black art disrupt concepts of time and space?  How might we conceive of black diasporic artistic forms outside the context of U.S.? How does the valuation of black art change within a global context?

The conference will challenge traditional conference formats by centering art as research as opposed to an object of research. Rather than a series of panels of “talking heads,” for example, each event will focus on a particular artistic event—e.g., film, musical performance, theatrical production, art exhibit, dance piece, etc.—that will be the genesis of critical engagement of the questions that frame the conference. We have invited artists and critics from South Africa, Germany, England, the Caribbean as well as the United States to engage the themes of the conference through their art and criticism. In addition, the conference will engage our students at Northwestern—both graduate and undergraduate—who have a vested interest in black artistic practice in a global context, through both their participation on panels and through their own art making. Like the first conference on black arts in Chicago, we will host parts of the conference in locations in the city to engage community stakeholders, such as Links Hall Performance Space, Evanston Space music venue, and the University of Chicago’s Logan Center. The conference will extend over the course of a week of performance events and panels and will culminate with Returns, the first in a series of public convenings focused on pan-Africanism taking place at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at The University of Chicago from Friday, October 13 through 15 and on Thursday, October 19.  

This conference is generously sponsored by the Lambert Family Conference Gift. 





Register for Conference Here

For Evanston campus map, click here



Conference Schedule

Monday, October 9

12 – 1:30 pm (Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street)

Official Opening of the Conference by E. Patrick Johnson, Chair of African American Studies and Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies, Northwestern University

Keynote Address: Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English, Harvard University

Post-Keynote Reception: Harris Hall 108, 1881 Sheridan Road 

4:30 pm (Mary & Leigh Block Museum Auditorium, 40 Arts Circle Drive)

Film Screening of Sankofa (1993) with Director Haile Gerima

7:00-8:15 pm (Block Museum)

Post-Screening Discussion:  Ben Jones, Graduate Student, Art History, Moderator 


Haile Gerima, Film Director and Professor of Communication, Howard University

Michael Boyce Gillespie, Associate Professor of Film and Black Studies, City College of New York (CUNY)

Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Film, University of Georgia

Tukufu Zuberi, Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Tuesday, October 10

4 – 5:00 pm (New Location: Block Museum Auditorium, 40 Arts Circle Drive)*

Poetry Showcase: Talk that Talk, Curated by Ahlaam Delange, Undergraduate, Medill School of Journalism and Kalonji Nzinga, Graduate Student, School of Education and Social Policy

*This Event has been relocated from Green Arts Lawn due to forecast of rain. 

6:30 pm  (Peckish Pig, 623 Howard Street, Evanston) —Reservations Required, RSVP here

Fumi Okiji, BAI Postdoctoral Fellow, and Vocalist

Performance of “Record Rituals” featuring the musical group, Abiku Tutu

Post-Performance Discussion: Brittnay Proctor, PhD Candidate, African American Studies, Moderator


Omi Osun Joni Jones, Professor of African and African American Studies, Universty of Texas-Austin

Meta Jones, Associate Professor of English, Howard University


Wednesday, October 11

12 – 1:30 pm (Harris Hall 108)

A Reading and Conversation: Delali Kumavie, PhD Candidate, English, Moderator

Reading by Caryl Phillips, Professor of English, Yale University

A Conversation between Chris Abani,  Board of Trustees Professor of English, Northwestern and Caryl Phillips

7:30 pm (Links Hall Studio, 3111 N. Western Avenue, Chicago) —Reservations Required, RSVP here

Dance Performance: Fremde Tänze by Nelisiwe Xaba, Dance and Choreographer, South Africa


Thursday, October 12

7:30 pm (Josephine Louis Theatre,  20 Arts Circle Drive)

Play by Tarell McCraney: In the Red and Brown Water (2010)

Opening Night Reception: Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Arts Circle Drive)


Friday, October 13

9:30 – 11:30 am (Block Museum Auditorium)

Panel Discussion of Nelisiwe Xaba’s Fremde Tänze

Mlondi Zondi, PhD Candidate, Performance Studies, Moderator


Hershini Young, Professor of English, University of Buffalo

Reggie Wilson, Choreographer and Artistic Director, Fist and Heel Performance Group

Brent Edwards, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Aimee Cox, Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies, Yale University

11:30 – 12:30 pm Lunch

12:30 – 2 pm (Louis Theatre)

A Conversation with Tarell McCraney, Playwright, Yale University

Interviewer: Aymar Christian, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University

2:00-2:30 pm Break

2:30 – 4:00 pm (Block Museum Auditorium)

Panel Discussion of Carrie Mae Weems’ “Ritual and Revolution” Exhibit (Alsdorf Gallery of Block Museum

LaCharles Ward, PhD Candidate, Rhetoric and Public Culture, Moderator


Michael Hanchard, Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Gina Athena Ulysse, Professor of Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Wesleyan University

Romi Crawford, Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute Chicago

4:00 – 4:15 pm (Block Museum Auditorium) 

Closing Remarks


Friday, October 13

6:30 – 8 pm  (Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th Street, Chicago)

Keynote Address: Abdul Alkalimat, Professor Emeritus of African American Studies and Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Saturday, October 14

12:45 – 5 pm (Logan Center, The University of Chicago)

Public Convening with Romi Crawford (School of Art Institute, Chicago), Haki R. Madhubuti, (African American Poet/Essayist) Dominique Malaquais (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France), Naem Mohaiemen (Columbia University), Marilyn Nance (Photographer/Artist) and Floyd Webb (Filmmaker), among others.

Sunday,  October 15

2:00 pm  (Stony Island Arts Bank, 6720 S. Stony Island Ave)

Film Screening: The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) followed by a post-screening reception.

Thursday, October 19

6:00-8:00 pm (Logan Center, The University of Chicago)

Roundtable with Françoise Vergès (Goldsmiths College)

For more information and to see schedule, please visit here

Bios of Participants

Co-Sponsors: Office of the Provost, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, The Graduate School, Bienen School of Music, School of Communication, Mellon Dance Studies, the Dance Center for Columbia College Chicago, Goethe-Institut, Links Hall, Black Arts Consortium, Program in American Studies, Department of African American Studies, Department of Art History, Buffet Institute for Global Studies, Department of Performance Studies, Department of Art, Theory and Practice, Program in African Studies, Center for Global Culture and Communication, Department of English, Department of Radio, Television, and Film, Department of Theatre, and Kaplan Institute for the Humanities

For further info, contact LaCharles Ward at