Where does a Nigerian-German poet call home? And to whom does her art belong? These and other questions of identity and migration are at the heart of more than a dozen local and international scholars and artists presenting at The University of Texas at El Paso on April 15 and 16 at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on Wiggins Road.
The Women of the African Diaspora conference will kick off at 6 p.m. Thursday, with a keynote address from Ayo Coly, author of Home Matters: Gender, Migration and the Claims of Postcolonial Nationhood in Francophone African Literatures and assistant professor of comparative literature at Dartmouth College.
The conference is free and open to the public. “We hope the public will see this as a chance to talk with some of their favorite writers and artists about issues that matter to them,” said Sarah Ryan, Ph.D., UTEP assistant professor of communication.
Nigerian-German poet Olumide Popoola will deliver a breakfast address at 8:30 a.m. Friday followed by panel discussions until 5 p.m. Topics will include stolen freedom, escape, rebuilding, tales of love and survival and motherhood, among others.
The award-winning panelists will also sign their latest books throughout the conference.
Local professors, artists and writers will serve as co-panelists and panel chairs.
· 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
South African-born novelist, poet and scholar Yvette Christiansë will discuss women’s freedom with Kathy Staudt, Ph.D., UTEP political science professor and author of 14 books on immigration, gender and diasporic experience.
· 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Joyce Stahmer, renowned storyteller and UTEP staff member, will present alongside Natasha Gordon-Chipembere, Ph.D., political biographer and assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York.
· Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Myriam J. A. Chancy, author of Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women, will speak about “framing the silence.”
· 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.
Cynthia Bejarano, UTEP associate professor of criminal justice and author of a number of books, including Qué Onda? Urban Youth Cultures and Border Identity, will present alongside award-winning novelist Ana-Maurine Lara on a panel entitled “Tales of Love and Survival.”
· 3 to 4 p.m.
Local author and editor for the literary review Border Senses, Selfa Chew will dialogue with Angie Cruz and Sasha Pimental Chacón about the poetics of justice.
“Some of the most talented storytellers, artists and academics from the African diaspora will be presenting,” said conference co-organizer Marion Rohrleitner, Ph.D., UTEP assistant professor of English. “We invited our favorite poets, the students’ favorite novelists and scholars with important messages to engage in a two-day conversation.”
“Through the voices of women writers, this conference speaks to the politics of vision and virtue in identifying and dismantling diasporic edifices of sexism and racism,” said Maceo Dailey, Ph.D., director of African American Studies at UTEP.
The conference is being sponsored by the UTEP African-American Studies Program, Black Student Union, College of Education, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Communication, Department of Creative Writing, Department of English, Department of History, Department of Languages and Linguistics, Department of Political Science, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Humanities Texas, Institute of Oral History, Inter-American Jewish Studies Program, Student Government Association and Sweet Earth Flying Press.
To view the program: http://universitycommunications.utep.edu/AfricaDiaspora.pdf