INDIANAPOLIS — The Africana Studies Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will inaugurate the first Africana Studies Heritage Week Feb. 9 to 13.
The weeklong celebration will feature a series of public lectures; panel discussions; an art exhibit curated by Bessie House-Soremekun, professor and director of Africana studies; a book signing by Ronda Henry Anthony, public scholar of African American studies and undergraduate research; and film viewings based on the theme of “Reconnecting the African Diaspora to Africa.”
“It is entirely fitting and important for us to establish Africana Studies Heritage Week as one of the important traditions that we will celebrate yearly at IUPUI,” House-Soremekun said.
“We are delighted that we will celebrate the creation of black studies/Africana studies as a viable discipline in academia and pay tribute to the numerous contributions of Africa and of African-descended people who reside in the African Diaspora as part of the broader Black History Month activities. Africa is the birthplace of humankind as we know it and has been central in the development of global civilization processes. Our goal is to expose students, faculty and members of the broader community as a whole to these important issues.”
The Heritage Week celebrations will kick off Monday, Feb. 9, with a lecture featuring Dawn Batson, the former chair of the Department of Visual & Performing Arts at the Florida Memorial University and former chair of the National Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago, as the keynote speaker.
The event begins at 11:40 a.m. in Room 104 of Taylor Hall, 815 W. Michigan St., with introductions from House-Soremekun and Khalilah Shabazz, director of the IUPUI Multicultural Center. Batson will speak from noon to 12:45 p.m.
As part of the Heritage Week observance, House-Soremekun will present an art exhibit and lecture, “The Africa the World Seldom Sees.” Using African artwork from her personal collection, as well as photos she took when she served as a faculty host on the “Treasures of East Africa Tour” to Tanzania and Kenya in 2014 (sponsored by the Indiana University Alumni Association), House-Soremekun will challenge stereotypical images of Africa often presented in popular culture by presenting a compelling counter-narrative that illuminates many positive attributes and beauty of African society.
The art exhibit is open for public viewing Feb. 9 to 28 in Taylor Hall, Room 101.
“The inaugural Africana Studies Heritage Week features a full line-up of very interesting and enjoyable events,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “I commend all those who have collaborated on the organization of this new program, and we’re looking forward to its successful launch.”
Other events open to students, faculty and the general public during Heritage Week include:
12:50 to 2:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, Taylor Hall, Room 115k – Panel discussion about the recent critically acclaimed film “Selma,” moderated by Monroe Little, associate professor of Africana studies and history.
6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, Taylor Hall, Room 101 — A public reception with an Evening of Jazz performed by Bryan Thompson.
1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, Taylor Hall, Room 104 — The lecture “Negotiating Patriarchy, Colonial Legacies and Human Rights Law in Africa” by Obioma Nnaemeka, Chancellor’s professor of French, Africana studies and women’s studies;
Noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, Taylor Hall, Room 104 — A lecture by Ronda Henry Anthony about her book, “Searching for the New Black Man, Black Masculinity and Women’s Bodies.”
10 a.m. to noon Friday, Feb. 13, Taylor Hall, Room 115K — Viewing of the film “Honor & Glory,” the story of the co-discoverer of the North Pole, Matthew Henson.
Additional sponsors for the weeklong event include the IUPUI Office of Admissions; the IU School of Liberal Arts; Office for Diversity, Access, and Inclusion; Multicultural Center, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development.