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Wednesday, February 22, 2012


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For millennia, Africa has been at a great nexus of movement, ideas, resources and power. In the 21st century, themes both old and new are emerging. Globalization is changing the way people around the world communicate, produce, relate to one another and relate to themselves. In this context, the Center for African Education turns its yearly series "What is an African?" to the 21st century and asks, "What does it mean to claim an African identity in an era of migration and globalization?" Inspired by this question, we will explore four themes in the following four events this semester, culminating in an Oxford-Style debate.*

What is an African: African Emigrants in the 21st Century

In our first event, we will examine current trends in emigration from the continent. As a Diaspora population, both old and new, Africans are remaking their new worlds and are being remade by them. Africans are leaving the continent for a host of reasons, from the search for opportunity to the escape from conflict, and are making new homes for themselves throughout Europe, Latin America, and the United States, with a significant presence throughout New York City. In this event, speakers will discuss modern causes of emigration, the nature of the modern journey from Africa, and the challenges and successes Africans have found in their new homes.  Questions of identity and what it means to be an African and preserve an African identity abroad in the 21st century will motivate our discussion.

When:   Monday, March 19th 2012
Time:     7:30pm-9:30pm
Where:  TBD

What is an African: African Diaspora Music of Popular Protest

In the second event in our series, we will examine how the rich musical innovations of the African Diaspora have changed how Africans on the continent conceive of themselves. The role of Africa as an idea and a reality in African Diaspora identity has long received attention from scholars but the exchange of culture and identity goes both ways. From their very inception, many Diaspora musical styles were steeped in political protest and continue to represent some of the most profound venues for speaking truth to power in the modern era. From reggae in South Africa to Francophone hip hop in Senegal, Diaspora music is changing not only how Africans conceive of "African-ness" but how they view their relationship to power and their capacity to change that relationship. Join us a night of NYC African Diaspora performers and academic commentators performing and discussing African Diaspora Music and Popular Protest on the African Continent.

When:   Thursday, April 5th 2012
Time:     8:00pm-10:00pm
Where:  The Maison Français (map)


What is an African: Migration to and Within the Continent

In the third event in our series, we will consider three themes in migration within and to the environment. First, we will discuss both forced and voluntary migration within the continent and their consequences for identity. Second, we will examine the role of South Asian Diaspora populations on the African continent in both historical and contemporary contexts. Finally, we will examine the role of modern Chinese Diaspora populations in Africa in the creation of modern and future African identity. Join us on April 18th at 7:30pm for a panel presentation and reception on themes of identity and migration to and within Africa.

When:   Wednesday, April 18th 2012
Time:     7:30pm-9:30pm
Where:  TBD


What is an African: Oxford-Style Debate

Our final event will take place in the form of an Oxford-Style debate. In this event, we will be discussing claims versus reality in cultural, philosophical and aesthetic expressions of African identity. Specifically, we will be asking the following questions,
  • "Why do some blacks in the Americas claim to be African while others do not?"
  • "Who supports and who denies these claims and to what end?"

When:   Monday, April 30th 2012
Time:     7:30pm-9:30pm
Where:  TBD

*We recognize that Africa is an enormously diverse continent with a great plurality of experiences. Throughout this series, we hope to include as many voices from as many regions and identity groups of Africa as possible.

You can contact The Center for African Education here:
   Box 217, 525 W. 120th Street
   New York, NY, 10027
   (212) 678-8139

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Teachers College | Columbia University
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New York, NY 10027-6696

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Center for African Education · Teachers College | Columbia University · Box 217, 525 W 120th Street · New York, NY 10027-6696


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