Warm up with the IAAR Spring Events

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As you try to wrap your mind around how the temperatures can go from 10 to 70 degrees all in the first week of classes, take a look at the more comprehensible and balanced roster of events that we have lined up for spring 2014. Our focus continues to be currency in research on African Americans and the African diaspora. Three of our spring talks draw on big or emerging questions for studies of Black American women in different fields. Anthropologist and Global Nutrition professor, Margaret Bentley will discuss mothering and child health. Literature scholar, Folashadé Alao (University of South Carolina), will talk about themes of spatial literacy and diaspora among African American women writers in the post-1970s period. And, Kia Caldwell, UNC associate professor of African, African American and African Diaspora Studies, will present with Niasha Fray (doctoral candidate, Dept of Health Behavior) to address self-advocacy among middle class black women undergoing HIV testing.

I am also excited about our April conference and February panel presentations. The latter is our Black History Month event and was originally inspired by the sustained national discussion about Blacks and language that emerged during the Trayvon Martin case. Considering some of he latest trends in the field, our three linguistics scholar panelists will address the structural, cognitive and social dimensions, of what is known as African American English and its relation to education. Professors Lisa Green (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), J. Michael Terry (UNC-CH), and Walt Wolfram (NC State University) are top in the field and we were fortunate to get them together on one panel, which promises to be rich. Also impressive will be our event devoted to the work of the Social Movements Working Group, a remarkably dynamic, engaged, and interdisciplinary collaboration that took off more than a decade ago on campus. As co-founder Professor Dorothy Holland (Dept of Anthropology) prepares to retire, the one-day conference will honor her by examining the groups’ work theorizing and exploring research on collective action, including social movement projects in North Carolina such as the recent Moral Mondays protests.

Finally, to promote professional development, the IAAR has launched a monthly brown bag series for graduate student talks this semester. Graduate students will have an opportunity to build a community of UNC student-scholars researching African Americans and the African diaspora while also receiving feedback on their works-in-progress. From graduate students in anthropology, sociology and psychology this semester we will hear about black radicalism in the prison resistance movement, Muslims and race in the U.S. and skin color influences for African American youth. In response to graduate student requests, the series this semester will include a dialogue about the implications of university research with local black communities. It will address what some graduate students identified as “research fatigue” within surrounding communities often the target of university studies and will therefore consider research ethics and university relations with the African American public. To attend any of these events please check out our calendar where you will find the location, date and time. See you there!

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