2019 Black 'Migrations' Symposium
February 7-8, 2019
University of Missouri (MU)
February 7: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Gillette/Ware Room (Memorial S206), Memorial Union
February 8: 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Arvarh E. Strickland Room (Memorial S203), Memorial Union
Presented by the Department of Black Studies and Department of Statistics, University of Missouri, Columbia. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Paul Anthony Brick Fund.
Migration has played a central role in the histories of Africans and their descendants. For some, migration was entirely voluntary while others were forced to move due to violence, political destabilization, ecological degradation, or other upheavals. Black migrations have also resulted in more diverse and stratified interracial populations that have reshaped the societies of the receiving areas. In more recent periods, scholars have begun exploring the impact out-migration and return migration have had on the development and stability of various majority black societies. In addition, scholars, students, and activists have been examining the relation between relocation and conceptualizations of blackness.
About the Symposium
This two-day symposium will examine black migrations to include relocations within and beyond the US. The symposium will include papers from scholars, students, and activists that discuss various periods and streams of migration that have shaped the histories and contemporary realities of African people and their descendants. The papers will explore the impacts and importance of migration on black populations from different time periods and geographic locations, but especially in the following areas:
- African American Migrations (internal and international)
- Agency of black people within forced migration
- Black migration and family formation/kinship ties
- Black migration and gender
- Black sexuality and migration
- Caribbean, Afro-Latin American, and African migrations worldwide
- Demographics of black migration: historical and contemporary trends
- Documenting black migrations in the digital age
- Methodologies for modelling migration flows
- Negotiating migrant realities
- Race, class, and migration
- The migration industry and its impacts on black populations
- Theoretical formulations on black migration and migrant-identity politics
The ‘BLACK MIGRATIONS’ Symposium is a collaborative venture between the Department of Black Studies and the Department of Statistics at the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. The symposium is also generously supported by funding from the Paul Anthony Brick Fund and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
BLACK ‘MIGRATIONS’ Symposium
February 8, 2019
University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
9 a.m.–5 p.m. Arvarh E. Strickland Room (S203), Memorial Union, South
Welcome and Opening Remarks, 9:00-9:10 am
Panel 1: Navigating Race, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity, 9:10-10:30 am
Moderator Tristan Ivory, University of Missouri
- Hassane Oudadene, Ibn Zohr University, “Sub-Saharan Minorities in Morocco: ‘Route Escapers’ or Permanent Settlers”
- Samantha Payne, Harvard University, “Atlantic Counterrevolution: U.S. Emancipation and the Politics of Black Exclusion in Cuba and Brazil, 1865-1912”
- Jacqueline Andall, University of Tokyo, “New Destinations: Black Labor Migration to Japan and Italy”
- Karen Flynn, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “English as a Foreign Language Teachers (EFL) of African Descent in South Korea: Navigating Race, Gender, Religion, and Work”
Technical Keynote, 10:35-11:40 am
Zachary Mullen, Ashton Wiens, Henry Lovejoy, and Eric Vance, University of Colorado Boulder, “Using Statistics to Trace the Uncertain Origins of Enslaved Africans Leaving the Bight of Benin During the Collapse of the Oyo Empire, 1817-1836” / Moderator Scott H. Nolan
Coffee Break, 11:40-12:00 pm
Panel 2: Realities and Conceptualizations of Blackness through Migration, 12:00-1:30 pm
Moderator Daive Dunkley, University of Missouri
- Marshall Allen, University of Missouri, “Metaphysical Understandings of Migration in Black Political Fluidity and Analysis”
- Kathrin Schneckloth, University of Missouri, “Migration and Disability in Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy”
- Ben-Junior Chibhambu, University of Zimbabwe, “Clandestine Labor Migration and Underdevelopment in Southern Africa: A Historical Perspective”
- Selena Doss, Western Kentucky University, “Mapping North Carolina’s 19th Century Black Separatist Movements to Liberia”
Lunch, 1:30-2:30 pm
Panel 3: Africans and African Americans in Brazil and Europe, 2:30-3:50 pm
Moderator Daive Dunkley, University of Missouri
- Natalia Cintra, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and PUC-Rio, “Intersections of Race and Gender in the Analysis of Status Determination Procedures of Black Africa Asylum Seekers in Brazil” (paper prepared with Thula Pires, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)
- Kristin Kopp, University of Missouri, “Fueling the Fire of the Civil Rights Movement: The Return-Migration of African American GIs from Occupied Germany, 1945-1955”
- Roberta Tabanelli, University of Missouri, “The Portrayal of African Migrants and Refugees in Contemporary Italian Cinema”
- Valerie Kaussen, University of Missouri, “Maps of Migrancy in Post-Independence Senegal: Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973)”
Coffee Break, 3:50-4:05 pm
Closing Keynote, 4:05-5:00 pm
Karen C. Flynn, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “‘Unless you and the congregation can accept them fully’: Caribbean-Canadian Nurses and Nation Building” / Moderator Tristan Ivory
Day 1: Thursday, February 7
Gillette/Ware Room, Memorial Union
Panel 1: Realities and Conceptualizations of Blackness through Migration, 9:15-10:55 a.m.
1. Samantha Averett Boyd, Howard University, “Dreams Deferred or Actualized: Examining the Great Migration Through the Lens of the First- and Second-Generation Chicagoans”
This paper examines the impact and relevance of the Chicago Housing Race Restriction Covenant, which kept African Americans residents in a designated small community on the south and west side of Chicago, Illinois, and limited upward mobility of the migrants and their future generations. Housing restrictive covenants started as an unspoken agreement between white real estate agents and white property owners but later where legally enforced and used throughout the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. At first neighboring areas such as Hyde Park, Kenwood, and Woodlawn offered affordable housing to the flooding migrant and local African American population, but these neighborhoods would soon close to these same migrants. African Americans were forced to live in restrictive areas such as the area that became known as the “black belt, Moreover, “organizations like the notorious Hyde Park and Kenwood Property Owners’ Association went as far as to call on employers to deny jobs to black residents who would dare invade white areas.” With organizations and associations working hard to keep African Americans in the rapidly deteriorating location and branding any African Americans that moved into a prominently white neighborhood as an invader, it forced some African Americans into the mode of fight or flight. And hindering the possibility of African Americans migrants and their descents actualizing the aspiration and dreams that brought them to Chicago, a place they saw as the Promised Land.
2. Ijeoma Daberechi Odoh, Howard University, “Black British Women’s Writing on the Migratory Subject”
Postwar migration has redefined British national identities in many ways. Not only does it signal the collapse of the Empire, but it also fosters a new British multicultural society. While many feminist studies on migration reveal the many challenges women face as they travel from one place to another and as such portray their migration as contributing to their double displacements in both the home and host countries, I argue that migration can be empowering rather than disempowering as women work to emplace themselves in their new host communities. In this regard, rather than view postwar migration as a form of displacement, I portray it as colonization in reverse as black women are able to emplace themselves and rewrite the colonial history that silenced and portrayed them as inferior to their white British counterparts. I argue that in constructing a herstory, black women question and renegotiate their identities as well as reposition themselves as they move from the space of the margin to the center of the British multicultural society. Using the rhizomatic womb-space theory, which is a hybrid feminine migratory theory, to explore Andrea Levy’s Small Island, I seek to portray the role of black women in the building of a multicultural British society and their construction of herstory and new social relations. My goal is to explore how transnational movements and connections can help migratory subjects, especially women and children, to re-envision their world and build strong diasporic homes and ties beyond race, gender, class, and nationality.
3. Kathrin Schneckloth, University of Missouri, “Migration and Disability in Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy”
The paper considers the dramatization of black diaspora in Octavia E. Butler’s science-fiction series the Xenogenesis trilogy, more recently published as Lilith’s Brood. Science-fiction often serves as a critical lens to contemporary history and culture and Butler’s prophetic quality doubly comprehends the lived and physical realities of black individuals in the U.S. and the possible dystopic futures if our political, social, and economic structures continue to go unchecked. Lilith Iyapo, the protagonist of Butler’s trilogy, is a survivor from nuclear war and environmental destruction at the hands of world powers and corrupt governments. She is the new Eve, the chosen mother to a new humanity that has been genetically modified by DNA exchanges between an alien species named the Oankali. The Oankali have fostered a small number of human survivors with the intention of re-transplanting them back on Earth but with new genetic makeup and adaptations. The novels Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago follow the events proceeding the apocalypse with disabled bodies re-entering a disabling world while the texts weave together allusions of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, eugenicist experiments, biblical histories, and our growing understanding of biology and planetary existences. Ultimately, Butler considers how the individual black identity functions within and beyond the community and how one learns to make many negotiations for survival. This paper assesses how Butler characterizes the individual’s overlapping, intersecting, and hybridized differences during migration and the similarly nebulous post-apocalyptic, new Earth.
4. Jahlani A.H. Niaah, University of the West Indies, “Mapping the Migration and Evolution of Ethiopianism”
The journey of Ethiopianist peoples and their thoughts, though consistently mentioned in narratives such as the Christian Bible, are often marginalized or treated with dismissively. Perhaps stemming from sources anchored in hegemonic languages and cultures, Ethiopianism as an African alternative narrative has been dwarfed, treated as a subaltern voice, and at times often denigrated or even erased. This paper seeks to trace the migration and evolution of modern Ethiopianism as a cohesive and specific cultural movement. This movement, now a sizable international community, has various expressions but has a dominant and unique manifestations within the African diaspora among Jamaicans as the Rastafari, a grassroots religio-political assembly, emerging on the Caribbean island in the 1930s. In this paper, I seek to evidence the existing demographics of Ethiopianism as an increasingly resilient, historically embedded Pan-African narrative. Ultimately, I seek an assessment that views this trajectory of Ethiopianism and its status as a trending worldview beyond the African peoples.
Panel 2: Navigating Race, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity, 11:10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
1. Nichol Allen, Southern Illinois University, “From the Human Zoo to the Parlor”
In 1893, Frederick Douglass told the U.S. to leave Haiti alone as he opened the gates to a Haitian Pavilion at the Chicago’s World’s Fair. In this grand room a celebration of Haiti masked the deep conflicts and resentment that America held for Haiti. As white Americans wore their imaginary pith hats they were able to imagine a people who needed to be colonizing. They were able to imagine a beautiful place that would become an extension of American democracy and freedom. It would not take long for this black independent nation to find itself forcefully being occupied by U.S. troops. I trace the pre-justification of Haitian occupation through the theatrical and purposeful placement of Haitians at the Chicago’s World’s Fair. The lack of indigenous representation at the Chicago’s World’s Fair and St. Louis World’s Fair elevated the status of Haiti making occupation justifiable. Once Haiti is occupied, I illuminate how American material culture depicted Haiti and Haitians during a socially unstable time (1915-1934), which allowed white reassertion of racial superiority and justifications for colonization from afar. By uncovering a shift in American white thought towards Haiti we are able to see how the U.S. controlled, reshaped, and migrated Haiti’s image to support imperialistic desires.
2. Marshall Allen, University of Missouri, “Metaphysical Understandings of Migration in Black Political Fluidity and Analysis”
While migration typically connotes a physical change in geography and location, a much more implied definition refers to a shift or a general alteration. Fundamentally, the discourse is simply explaining change. Describing migration in a context other than geographical shifting enables both a new perspective and larger conversations. Therefore, by addressing the metaphysical, we ultimately make way for topic areas crucial to the conception of black migration. This paper will examine the shift in political awareness within black communities as they migrate from political indifference to fluidity and analysis. What I seek to accomplish is an explanation of efficacy in black communities generally disenfranchised by politics and its systems. Explored in this paper is the understanding of ideological movement and that black people are migrating in the intellectual sense to a place of greater knowledge and enlightenment. By metaphysically examining migration, the literature and other data sources available will help us explore migration through a more analytical lens.
3. Hassane Oudadene, Ibn Zohr University, “Sub-Saharan Minorities in Morocco: ‘Route Escapers’ or Permanent Settlers”
The issue of multiculturalism has become more interesting and demanding in societies featured with multilingual, multiracial, and multicultural backgrounds. Settings with linguistic and cultural plurality and variety are likely to generate, or rather, apportion a viable room for the negotiation and reconfiguration of identity. The continuous flux of Sub-Saharan minorities into Morocco constitutes a migration phenomenon of different categories ranging from the jet-set class of students to the most conspicuously prevailing category of impoverished minorities. These ‘sojourners’ have turned Moroccan space into heterogeneous multicultural cells in which the identity of both home and host subjects becomes susceptible to reciprocal effects of change and reshaping. This paper seeks to deconstruct the threads of the multicultural (atmo)spheres created by the presence of Sub-Saharan minorities in Moroccan society. Their presence yields some interstitial passages whereby the complex relationship between national and ethnic identity could be examined and investigated. As these collectivities are culturally appropriated across ‘the stairwell’ of Moroccan space, it may be argued that their ethnic identity has fared differently in the middle of a juxtaposing national identity by which they have lived so far. With regard to a confusing status legally, socially, and culturally, these ‘black’ immigrants tend to either flounder about to establish a new homeland, with a new identity or handle the rites of passage towards a greener grass beyond the Mediterranean due to such traumatic issues of integration as violence, abuse, and debasement.
4. Ben-Junior Chibhambu, University of Zimbabwe, “Clandestine Labor Migration and Underdevelopment in Southern Africa: A Historical Perspective”
Labor migration and the transformation of border control policies in southern Africa has had a long history with trajectories. South African work destinations were generally more attractive than southern Rhodesian ones, and men worked their way south to reach the Limpopo. Having crossed it, the same gradually improving work conditions applied within the Transvaal although Messina mine on the other border was relatively desirable. Increasing number of migrants from ever-further parts of southern Rhodesia crossed the Limpopo by the mid-1920s, truckloads of black workers made their way south to the border area around Beitbridge. The greater resources of gold mines on the Witzwatersand continued to make it the ideal destination. Other workplaces like Messina and later the Limpopo valley farms might be staging posts en route for workers seeking not only pay but also nodes in regional information networks. This paper analyses the ways in which clandestine labor migration was applied by Africans in quest for greener pastures in southern Africa.
Panel 3: Black Migrations in the Caribbean and Latin American, 1:30-2:50 p.m.
1. Rogerio da Palma, Universidade Estadual de Mato Grasso do Sul, and Oswaldo Truzzi, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, “Interprovincial Traffic of Slaves and Abolition: Case Studies in São Paulo”
Focusing on the interprovincial migration of slaves that occurred in Brazil during the second half of the 19th century, this paper explores such a migratory phenomenon, as did Robert Slenes, as a “political arena” in which the actions and expectations of transacted slaves were fundamental to understanding the tensions that took place in it. It is estimated that between 200 and 250 thousand enslaved people were relocated to the provinces of southeastern Brazil between 1850 and 1888. From the study of a series of conflicts, it is argued that this forced migration of the enslaved resized Brazilian slavery both in space and time: besides the displacement of captives between different provinces, the interprovincial trade of enslaved people represented a mosaic of expectations regarding the future of slavery in the country. Such trade, in this sense, was decisive for the abolitionist process: the sociabilities forged after these migrations caused a decrease in the legitimacy of slavery.
2. Samantha Payne, Harvard University, “Atlantic Counterrevolution: U.S. Abolition and the Politics of Black Exclusion in Cuba and Brazil, 1865-1912”
Following emancipation in the U.S., white elites in Brazil and Cuba acted to prevent African Americans from migrating to their nations. In 1866, the Brazilian minister of agriculture banned African American freedpeople from entering Brazil as laborers. In 1879, the mayor of the Cuban province of Cienfuegos barred “American citizens of color” from entering local ports. Within two decades, these restrictions had been nationalized in both countries. The Brazilian Constitution of 1891 banned black immigration. In 1902, the Cuban state prohibited the importation of nonwhite contract laborers. Over the next decade, white Cuban elites complained that this ban did not do enough to prevent African American immigration. In 1912, they began campaigning to prohibit African Americans from purchasing land in Cuba. Historians typically explain these laws as the triumph of scientific racism’s “whitening” projects in Latin America. Instead of portraying “whitening” legislation as the inevitable result of European scientific development, my paper argues that these discriminatory laws constituted a counterrevolution that followed emancipation across the Atlantic world. My research suggests that white elites feared that African American freedpeople would radicalize enslaved and free blacks in Cuba and Brazil. Concerned that “similar scenes” to U.S. Reconstruction would unfold in their nations, these men sought to prevent freedpeople from forging alliances across the hemisphere.
3. Thula Pires, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), and Natalia Cintra, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and PUC-Rio, “Intersections of Race and Gender in the Analysis of Status Determination Procedures of Black Africa Asylum Seekers in Brazil”
Up until 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hosted around 5,134 refugees and 2,620 asylum seekers, most of them from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, although nowadays Brazil, as a whole, has witnessed a slight difference in migration patterns due to recent incomings of Venezuelans. Our goal then is to do some case studies so as to see what sorts of racial and gendered interactions it is possible to extract from the interrelations between asylum seekers and the institutions responsible for dealing with immigrants in Brazilian territory, mostly the Federal Police, NGOs, the National Committee for Refugees and the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency). We argue researchers in Brazil fail to look at the intersections of race and gender present in such relationships, especially considering the already established racialized Brazilian society. All in all, this paper will do an analysis of asylum cases within a racial and gendered framework, especially considering works done by Achille Mbembe, Frantz Fanon, Iolanda Évora, Lélia Gonzalez, Beatriz Nascimento, among others.
Day 2: Friday, February 8
Arvarh E. Strickland Room, Memorial Union
Panel 4: Africa, Europe, and Asia, 9:35-11:15 a.m.
1. Valerie Kaussen, University of Missouri, “Maps of Migrancy in Post-Independence Senegal: Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973)”
Senegalese director Djibril Mambéty’s 1973 film, Touki Boukiis a complex meditation on Senegal’s post-independence generation and their desire to escape their homeland for the bright lights of Paris. Often called the first African “New Wave” film, Touki Bouki, which translates into English as “Journey of the Hyena,” reimagines migration from Africa to Europe, not as a linear trajectory, but as a process in which people, objects, the traditional and the “modern” travel along multiple intersecting and sometimes circular paths. Representing migration as beset by false starts, broken dreams, and unexpected discoveries, Mambéty suggests that migration, or the journey, is integral to what it means to be human. Like the images that make up a film, Mambéty’s Mori and Anta never stop moving. Their journey by motorcycle, car, or wheel-cart takes them from rural to urban and back again, traverses highways, hillsides, and dirt paths, until they reach the ship that will take them across the ocean, the final border that separates the couple from the object of their fantasies and desire. But as Mambéty shows, for Mori and Anta, a young couple on the run, “Paris,” as much as it is a real place, is a state of mind that possesses those who can acquire the fetishes of Western culture: clothing, cigars, fast cars, and champagne. Realizing that he has already seen Paris before ever leaving the shores of Senegal, Mambéty’s Mori redefines his desire for flight, an occasion for Mambéty to suggest new pathways of movement between past and future, tradition and modernity.
2. Jacqueline Andall, University of Tokyo, “New Destinations: Black Labor Migration to Japan and Italy”
Japan and Italy emerged as immigration countries in the 1980s and were accordingly categorized as ‘late-comer’ countries in migration scholarship. Black (male) migration from West Africa to the two countries also began in the 1980s. While this migration was largely unauthorized, in both Japan and Italy, acute labor shortages in some sectors and reticent labor supply in others meant that black men’s irregular working status was initially tolerated and, in the case of Italy, subsequently regularized by the authorities. Based on primary research conducted in Japan, Italy and Ghana, this paper compares the experiences of Ghanaian men who migrated to two countries that were relatively unfamiliar with black people. Italy had a small and short-lived empire in Africa, while Japan had colonized countries in Asia. Situating the analysis within a wider debate on how destination choices are selected, the paper examines the intersections between work, gender, black racialization and immigration policy to explain differences in the characteristics of Ghanaian settlement in Japan and Italy. By focusing on the experiences of those who pioneered migration to the two countries, I show how the initial contexts of reception influenced subsequent black migrations producing two quite different models of black settlement.
3. Karen Flynn, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “English as a Foreign Language Teachers (EFL) of African Descent in South Korea: Navigating Race, Gender, Religion, and Work”
This presentation explores the experiences of black male English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers in South Korea whose mobility is intricately connected to a transnational network fueled by the globalization of English. In addition to the demand for native speakers of English, EFL teachers had a range of reasons for migrating to South Korea, a largely homogenous society. While South Korea emerges as a site for potential and unanticipated possibilities that extends beyond the classroom, EFL teachers have to contend with tropes of blackness gleaned largely from the U.S. media that reinforces their status as “other.” In addition to exploring the dynamics of being black EFL teachers in an arena dominated by white westerners, the paper also makes a theoretical and conceptual shift from the Black Atlantic, to the Black Pacific. The presentation responds to the call of scholars pushing for explorations beyond the Black Atlantic especially in places rarely accounted for in African diasporic studies.
4. Roberta Tabanelli, University of Missouri, “The Portrayal of African Migrants and Refugees in Contemporary Italian Cinema”
Films that represent migration are growing in number, importance, and visibility in many national cinemas, especially in Europe. In the past three decades, Italy’s production of ‘migrant films’ has surged, from two films in the 1980s to about 30 in the 1990s to 70 films in the decade 2000-2010. In my paper, I will provide an overview of how Africans are represented in contemporary Italian migrant cinema in comparison with other ethnic groups. I’ll base my remarks on a corpus of about 130 Italian films, released between 1990 and 2017. I’ll discuss gender (i.e., are African female protagonists more or less present on screen than other ethnic groups?), interracial relations (i.e. are the cinematic relations between an African and an Italian more or less frequent than other mix-raced couples?), family type, jobs, crime and legality, and elements of the plot (i.e., is the death of African characters more or less tragic than other deaths?). I will conclude my presentation by comparing and contrasting this cinematic portrayal with statistics on the migrant population in Italy.
Panel 5: Quitting America: International African-American Migrations, 11:30-12:50 p.m.
1. Selena Doss, Western Kentucky University, “Mapping North Carolina’s 19th Century Black Separatist Movements to Liberia”
During the 19th century, blacks in the US south who supported immigration to Liberia reveal a unique form of Black Nationalism that sought to achieve self-determination primarily through land acquisition. Historians can better interpret these migrations in the digital age by implementing geographic information systems methods. Unlike static maps, GIS maps provide improved visualization that can track the frequency and magnitude of movements as well as any spatial and sequential effects. Black separatist movements taking place in North Carolina during the 19th century demonstrates the analytical benefits of this model. This paper seeks to determine if colonization movements in the antebellum period had a positive effect on emigration movements after the Civil War and posits that counties that experienced a movement before 1860 were more likely to initiate an independent movement after that date. Likewise, counties neighboring those experiencing emigration movements were also likely to initiate a movement at a later date. This research shows the effect that black emigration movements in one location had on other local movements. This effect is partly caused by information diffusion into nearby areas and recruitment networks. This research compliments the study of early Black Nationalism by recording the popularity and dynamics of territorial separatism among black southerners who participated in movements while living in relatively repressive conditions.
2. Kristin Kopp, University of Missouri, “Fueling the Fire of the Civil Rights Movement: The Return-Migration of African American GIs from Occupied Germany, 1945-1955”
After fighting against Nazi Germany in World War II, African American GIs also participated in the postwar occupation and democratization of what would become the Federal Republic of Germany. The official occupation lasted from 1945-1955 and maintained a large military presence in the country until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Some 20 million Americans would be stationed in Germany over the course of this period, 3 million of whom were African Americans. We may not commonly consider this history to be one of “migration” per se, but there are reasons to include it in our considerations nonetheless. Most significantly, the GIs lived with and amongst the German population; they interacted with them on a daily basis, worked with them in various employment sectors, and dated them. With tours of duty usually lasting 2-3 years, and with 40 percent of African Americans not wishing to leave Germany (some would even choose to go AWOL and defect to the Russian-occupied sector, rendering their migrations permanent), residence in Germany profoundly impacted the GIs, changing their understandings of the potential for democratizing the United States and obtaining full civil rights.
3. Samiha Rahman, University of Pennsylvania, “Moving Authority: African Americans in Search of Sacred Knowledge in West Africa”
Many people immigrate to the United States in hopes of improved sociopolitical and educational possibilities, but significant numbers of African Americans have challenged the notion of the United States as the land of opportunity by immigrating to Africa. Since the 1970s, hundreds of working-class African American Muslim youth have relocated from urban centers in the United States to Medina Baye, Senegal. Their parents have identified in this rural West African Sufi hub the promise of what they believe to be a better education and life for their next generation. Drawing upon ethnographic research with African American Muslim youth studying in Medina Baye, I interrogate their future aspirations and visions. I argue that these youth leverage the knowledge and experiences they gain through migration and schooling abroad to improve the material, moral, and educational conditions of black and Muslim communities in the urban U.S. I also argue that educational migration to Medina Baye enables African Americans to make claims on religious authority, authenticity, and orthodoxy, thereby challenging the marginalization of black Muslims within the broader multiethnic Muslim community in the U.S. In this way, I show how urban, working-class African American Muslims utilize migration to actualize personal, familial, and community-wide transformation.
About the Keynotes
Technical Keynote, February 7, 3:10-4:25 p.m.
Gillette/Ware Room, Memorial Union
Zachary Mullen, Ashton Wiens, Henry Lovejoy, and Eric Vance, University of Colorado Boulder, “Using Statistics to Trace the Uncertain Origins of Enslaved Africans Leaving the Bight of Benin During the Collapse of the Oyo Empire, 1817-1836”
The advent of modern computers has added an increased emphasis on channeling computational power and statistical methods into digital humanities. Incorporating increased statistical rigor in African Diaspora History poses unique challenges due to the inherent uncertainties of poorly recorded primary sources. Our project aims to bridge the lack of accurate maps of Africa during the trans-Atlantic slave trade with the personalized question of when and where individuals from Africa originated before boarding slave ships. We approach this question with a two-part mathematical model informed by three primary sets of geo-political data surrounding the collapse of Oyo, a major West African slave trading state, between 1817 and 1836. Data related to the formation and dissolution of towns allows us to map zones of conflict on an annual basis. Historical trade routes, in conjunction with voyage data from the trans-Atlantic slave trade, allow us to infer the movement of people over time and space. We begin with a conflict intensity surface which can generate capture locations of theoretical slaves, and accompany this with a Markov decision process which models the transport of these slaves through existing cities to the coastal areas. The basic argument is that in this period and region people involved in conflict closer to the coast were more likely to board slave ships departing to three main destinations, Brazil, Cuba, and due to British abolition efforts, Sierra Leone. Ultimately, we can use this two-step approach of providing capture locations to a historical trade network in a simulative fashion to generate and visualize the conditional probability of a slave coming from a certain spatial region given they were sold at a certain port. This project is a data-driven visual representation to a much broader research question about when and where people came from within Africa; and when and where they went in diaspora.
Closing Keynote, February 8, Memorial Union 1:50-2:50 p.m.
Arvarh E. Strickland Room, Memorial Union
Karen C. Flynn, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “‘Unless you and the congregation can accept them fully’: Caribbean-Canadian Nurses and Nation Building.”
As a white settler colony, whiteness was critical to Canadian nation building prerogatives. Every effort was made, via immigration legislation, to ensure that Canada remained in the words of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, “a white man’s country.” A confluence of factors, however, including a demand and need for racialized labor following the Second World War challenged the fiction of a white nation. Once viewed as unsuitable to enter Canada, unskilled Caribbean migrants made the sojourn to assist in alleviating the labor shortage. Included in this group were Caribbean nurses who entered an occupation that, much like the Canadian nation, previously had excluded them. This presentation explores the nation-building efforts of Caribbean nurses within as well as outside of their occupation. An examination of the nurses’ multiple and varied efforts undermines the prevailing image of Canada as a benevolent nation of immigrants. Equally significant, their nation-building efforts allowed them to make claims on the Canadian nation state.
About the Cultural Event
FEBRUARY 7, 5–7p.m.
Venue: Jesse Wrench Auditorium
‘My Black is Not Your Black’. An evening of poetry presented by MU’s Indie POETS Society (On Twitter: @Indie_POETS). This is also a Black History Month Event. Link to the 2019 Black History Month Calendar
Hotel and Travel Booking
A block of rooms has been reserved at The Broadway Columbia - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel for February 7, 2019 - February 9, 2019. The special room rate of US$139 will be available until January 15th or until the group block is sold-out, whichever comes first.
Log into the Black Migration Symposium reservation site to book your room: http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/C/COUTBDT-BMS-20190207/index.jhtml
Group Name: Black Migration Symposium
Group Code: BMS
For air transportation, the nearest airports are Columbia Regional Airport (COU), the Lambert–St. Louis International Airport (STL), and the Kansas City International Airport (MCI). If you are coming in through the international airports, consider booking your ground transportation with MO-X, which will take you to Columbia and back. There are several taxi services with service to and from Columbia Regional, as well as around town:
Taxi Terry’s: http://taxicolumbiamo.com/
5 Star Taxi: http://www.5startaxillc.com/
Economy Cab: http://www.economycab.com/
Above: (1) Enslaved Africans in Hold of Slave Ship, 1827. Bristol Central Reference Library and Adam Hochschild. (2) Jack Delano, Group of Florida migrants on their way home to Cranberry, New Jersey, to pick potatoes, near Sharboro, North Carolina, July 1941. Farm Security Administration, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (3) Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, 1940-41. Tempera on Hardboard (The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.). Photo by Steven Zucker.