Africana Studies


Contact Us

For more information about Africana Studies at Bard College or questions about this site:

Drew Thompson
Director of Africana Studies
Tel: 845-758-6822 x4600
Office: Hopson 303
Bard College
PO Box 5000
New York 12504-5000

Upcoming Events

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Past Events



Monday, December 3, 2018
Commemoration Walk
Aspinwall  3:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
We will tour new campus signage designed to encourage critical reflection on community practices of public memory, recognition, and forgetting through geographical markers.Walk beginning outside Aspinwall Hall, Bard College, on Monday, December 3, at 3:00 pm.

Reception following in the Campus Center Multipurpose Room will feature student art and performances.

This is a project of students in Professor Myra Young Armstead's "Inclusion at Bard" course, an Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences course sponsored by Bard's Center for Civic Engagement. This event is part of the Difference and Justice Symposium, and is underwritten by a grant from the Lumina Foundation.
Contact: Myra Young Armstead  845-758-6822
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Creative Process in Dialogue: Art and the Public Today
Elizabeth Alexander and Amy Sherald in Conversation
BHSEC, 525 E. Houston St., NY, NY  6:30 pm – 8:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
The poet and Mellon Foundation President Dr. Elizabeth Alexander and painter Amy Sherald will talk to each other about their creative processes and commitment to the humanities. This program diversifies perspectives on the arts disciplines, and offers models for collective and inclusive dialogues. 

Free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Register here.

This event will be webcast live on

This event is cosponsored by Humanities New York, Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard Center for Civic Engagement, Bard Undergraduate Program in Africana Studies, Bard High School Early College, and Bard American Studies Program.

Watch Live Starting at 6:30 Eastern Time:

Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program
Contact: Drew Thompson  845-758-6822
Thursday, October 25, 2018
African Forced Migration through the Mediterranean
Meet Jacqueline Abad
Olin Language Center, Room 115  11:50 am – 1:10 pm EDT/GMT-4
Social worker Jacqueline Abad has worked for different NGOs, including the Red Cross in Almería, Spain, helping African immigrants who try to get to Europe through the Mediterranean. On Thursday, October 25, Jacqueline will share with Bard students her experience. She will also provide information on volunteering opportunities that involve working with the African immigrant community in Spain. Please note that this event will be in Spanish. Open to the Bard community.

Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; Human Rights Program; Human Rights Project; LAIS Program; Spanish Studies
Contact: Patricia Lopez-Gay  845-758-6822
Thursday, October 25, 2018
African Forced Migration through the Mediterranean
Jacqueline Abad
Olin Language Center, Room 115  11:50 am – 1:10 pm EDT/GMT-4
Social worker Jacqueline Abad has worked for different NGOs, including the Red Cross in Almeria, Spain, helping African immigrants who try to get to Europe through the Mediterranean. On Thursday, October 25, Jacqueline will share with Bard students her experience. She will also provide information on volunteering opportunities that involve working with the African immigrant community in Spain. Please note that this event will be in Spanish.
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; Human Rights Program; Spanish Studies
Contact: Patricia Lopez-Gay  845-758-6822
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century
Nate Chinen, Writer/Critic/Director of Editorial Content, WBGO
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium  5:00 pm – 6:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
“Playing changes,” in jazz parlance, has long referred to an improviser’s resourceful path through a chord progression. Playing Changes boldly expands on the idea, highlighting a host of significant changes—ideological, technological, theoretical, and practical—that jazz musicians have learned to navigate since the turn of the century. Nate Chinen, who has chronicled this evolution firsthand throughout his journalistic career, vividly sets the backdrop, charting the origins of jazz historicism and the rise of an institutional framework for the music. He traces the influence of commercialized jazz education and reflects on the implications of a globalized jazz ecology. He unpacks the synergies between jazz and postmillennial hip-hop and R&B, illuminating an emergent rhythm signature for the music. And he shows how a new generation of shape-shifting elders, including Wayne Shorter and Henry Threadgill, have moved the aesthetic center of the music. Woven throughout the book is a vibrant cast of characters—from the saxophonists Steve Coleman and Kamasi Washington to the pianists Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer to the bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding—who have exerted an important influence on the scene. 

Nate Chinen has been writing about jazz for more than 20 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for the New York Times and helmed a long-running column for Jazz Times. As the director of editorial content at WBGO, he works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and contributes a range of coverage to NPR Music. An 11-time winner of the Helen Dance – Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in writing presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, Chinen is also coauthor of Myself among Others: A Life in Music, the autobiography of impresario George Wein. He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife and two daughters.
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; American Studies Program; Division of Languages and Literature; Ethnomusicology Program
Contact: Peter L'Official  845-758-7662
Monday, September 17, 2018
Mustering a Military in Black and White: America’s World War II Draft and the Making and Meaning of Race
Thomas A. Guglielmo, Associate Professor of American Studies, George Washington University
Olin, Room 102  4:45 pm – 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Anyone with a passing knowledge of the World War II–era U.S. military likely knows that it was segregated. Less well known, surprisingly, is who was segregated from whom, exactly, and how the military made these decisions. Neither was simple or straightforward. My talk will explore a long-forgotten chapter of this larger story: the fraught and complex struggle over inductees’ “proper” racial classification and placement in the segregated World War II–era military. Drawing on a variety of federal records from the army, the Selective Service System, and the courts, I trace the stories of an eclectic mix of Americans —Waccamaw Siouans, Chickahomines, Creoles, Puerto Ricans, Cape Verdeans—who fit neatly into neither of the military's catchall categories of “white” and “colored.” In the process, I shed light on the evolving meaning and boundaries of race—from official state policy down to ordinary people’s attitudes and actions.
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; American Studies Program; Historical Studies Program; Sociology Program
Contact: Joel Perlmann  845-758-6822 x7667
Monday, April 23, 2018
Interracial Marriage and the Gendered Optics of African Nationalism in the Colonial Metropole
Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University
Olin, Room 102  4:40 pm – 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
How visible is the role African women played in decolonization? The roles that white women played in the push toward independence—as political comrades, friends, and sometimes as lovers and wives to many of the Black men who had come to the imperial center to agitate for independence—were often sustained and meaningful. They are far from being a salacious footnote in the history of anticolonial nationalist struggles. Yet, this talk explores that affective history and the ways in which it skews the gendered optics of African nationalism by further obscuring the role of African women in the decolonization process.

Carina Ray is associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University and a historian of Africa and the Black Atlantic world; she holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She is the author of Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana (Ohio University Press, 2015) and coeditor of Darfur and the Crisis of Governance in Sudan: A Critical Reader (Cornell, 2008). Her current research explores the development of indigenous ideas about blackness and the black body in precolonial and colonial Ghana within local, regional, and transnational networks of exchange and knowledge production.
Sponsored by: The Africana Studies and Historical Studies Programs
Contact: Tabetha Ewing  845-758-6822
Saturday, April 21, 2018
A Girl's Period... No Longer the End of Her Potential
Bard CEP Distinguished Alumni Lecture with Dr. Liita-Iyaloo Cairney, BA/MS '08
Blithewood, Levy Institute  6:00 pm – 7:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Please join us for a lecture by Bard CEP alum Dr. Liita-Iyaloo Cairney, BA/MS '08, at Blithewood Manor. 

Lecture: "Koree: Enhancing Individual Capabilities through the Application of Disciplined Entrepreneurship"
The lecture examines the intellectual and entrepreneurial journey that led Liita to invent the Koree menstrual hygiene device and education framework. It also reflects on how Liita's approach to commercializing the Koree product is influenced and guided by the ideas of Amartya Sen and Bill Aulet.

Biography: Liita-Iyaloo Cairney was born in Namibia. She graduated with a BA in natural sciences (with a concentration in biology) and an MS in environmental policy from Bard College. Soon after graduating with her master’s degree from the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Cairney was employed by the Population Council in New York City. She worked in the Poverty, Gender, and Youth Division on projects that sought to financially and socially empower adolescent girls worldwide. Cairney’s time at the Population Council convinced her to pursue a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. She founded Kalitasha Ltd. and invented the Koree product in 2013, while earning her PhD in international public health policy. Through the Koree menstrual hygiene device and associated education framework (, she seeks to empower young women by developing solutions to health problems that limit their individual, social, and political capabilities (Amartya Sen). Cairney lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband and son.
Sponsored by: Bard Center for Environmental Policy
Contact: Katie Boyle
Monday, March 26, 2018
“Black Feminist Interventions in Children's Fantasy: Recovered Histories, Literary Representation, and New Publishing Technologies,” with Zetta Elliot
RKC 103  5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
How do we move children’s fantasy beyond the racialized and imperialist norms of the genre? In this interactive presentation, author/educator Zetta Elliott will discuss “the trouble with magic.” After spending her childhood consuming British fantasy fiction, Elliott began to decolonize her imagination, and has dedicated her writing life to reconstituting “Black magic” as a powerful force to be celebrated rather than defeated. Elliott uses the historical fantasy genre to revise, review and reclaim the (often traumatic) histories of Atlantic enslavement and colonization. She is also an advocate for community-based publishing and will reveal how print-on-demand technology transfers power from the industry’s gatekeepers to those excluded from the publishing process.

Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to the US in 1994 to pursue her Ph.D. in American studies at NYU. Her essays have appeared in the Huffington PostSchool Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. She is the author of over 25 books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and Melena's Jubilee. Her own imprint, Rosetta Press, generates culturally relevant stories that center children who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and/or rendered invisible in traditional children’s literature. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing. She currently lives in Brooklyn.
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; American Studies Program; Experimental Humanities Program; Literature Program
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
In the Time of Color: David Goldblatt’s Intersections
Leslie Wilson
Olin, Room 102  4:45 pm EDT/GMT-4
This talk explores David Goldblatt’s shift to color photography for his Intersections series, begun in 1999. I argue that Goldblatt’s use of color throws into sharp relief a wider set of transformations in what had become technologically, rhetorically, politically, and artistically possible in postapartheid South Africa. More than offering an easy metaphor about South Africa’s transition from a nation structured by the opposition of white and nonwhite peoples to the polychrome promise of the “Rainbow Nation,” I contend that the use of color photography is emblematic of a shift away from certain kinds of self-censorship and toward an expanded range of formal possibilities that could newly be understood to possess a critical edge and represent socially engaged subject matter. 
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; Global and International Studies Program
Contact: Drew Thompson  845-758-6822
Friday, March 2, 2018
Working Papers: On Historical Method and Innovation
Finberg Library  1:00 pm – 2:30 pm EDT/GMT-4

Ebony Coletu
Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies, Penn State
“Chief Sam and the Undocumented Origins of African American Migration to Ghana Carina Ray
Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Brandeis University
“Africa as a Refuge” Abosede George
Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, Barnard College
“Death of a Building: Unearthing the Politics of Modernity and Migration Histories in Architectural Conservation Projects in Lagos”
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; American Studies Program; Division of Social Studies; Historical Studies Program; Human Rights Program
Contact: Tabetha Ewing  845-758-6822