2020 Black 'Migrations' Symposium
2020 Black Migrations Symposium
Thursday, February 20, 2020
University of Missouri, Columbia MO
Thursday, February 20: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Ellis Library (Room 114A)
Presented by the Department of Black Studies and Department of Statistics, University of Missouri, Columbia. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
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 community organizers have been examining the relationship of migration to voting and democracy.
About the Symposium
This one-day symposium will examine black migrations to include relocations within and beyond the US. Symposium organizers seek papers that discuss various periods and streams of migration that have shaped the histories and contemporary realities of African people and their descendants. Papers exploring the impacts and importance of migration on black populations from all time periods and geographic locations are welcome. Symposium organizers are especially interested in work that addresses the following areas:
- Impacts of Black Migrations on Democracy and Voting
- 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 generously supported by funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Program: Black ‘Migrations’ Symposium
Thursday, February 20, 2020
University of Missouri, Ellis Library (Room 114A)
Welcome Remarks 8:20am – 8:30am
Patricia Okker, Dean of the College of Arts & Science, University of Missouri
April Langley, Chair of Black Studies, University of Missouri
Daive Dunkley, Symposium Co-Chair, Black Studies, University of Missouri
Panel 1: Fugitives, Refugees, and Nation Builders
Moderated by Mamadou Badiane, Associate Professor & Chair, Romance Languages & Literature, University of Missouri
8:30am – 10:00am
- Amanda McGee, PhD Student, History, University of Arkansas
“Fugitivity and Forced Migration in Early America”
Drawing upon runaway advertisements and court cases, this paper examines how underlying notions of space and race prompted institutions and white communities to influence and, at times, restrict the fugitive movements of enslaved people. Although a fugitive’s goal was always to realize freedom and many self-liberating decisions were obvious, some choices, such as where to go or whom to trust, were much less straightforward. Utilizing this approach, the paper seeks to add to discussions of the complicated dichotomy between slavery and freedom by placing fugitivity within a continuum of “unfreedom.” More simply, the paper seeks to explore the complex relationship between fugitivity and forced migration in early America.
- Caree Banton, Associate Professor, History/African & African American Studies, University of Arkansas
“Post-Emancipation Migration, Labor, and the Black Republic”
In the 1840s, Anthony Barclay, in a letter to the American Colonization Society (ACS), highlighted that Barbadians were “desirous of emigrating to Liberia for a two-fold reason: one being the improvement of their condition by diligent labor, and two, the noble desire of assisting to elevate their fatherland, or building up a nationality, without which they consider their race can never attain their proper position in the family of nations.” This paper examines the intricate ways in which discourses around the pre- and post-emancipation labors of the different groups of black migrants in Liberia intertwined to shape their differential reception into the nation and their very experiences of freedom, citizenship and nationhood, while also underwriting the nation’s sovereignty and respectability.
- Sarah Riva, PhD Student, History, University of Arkansas
“The Great Negro State of the Country: Arkansas and Black Migration between 1880 and 1940”
As the former Confederate states sought to reintegrate into the Union but maneuver around new federal legislation mandating equal protection of the laws for African Americans, formerly enslaved men and women began to leave their homelands, searching for their promised land. Many of them chose Arkansas. AME church Bishop Henry Turner called Arkansas “the great Negro State of the country” and over 200,000 had moved to the state by 1914. This paper assessed the in and out migration of African Americans that took place in Arkansas to understand the motivations that drove this movement through the end of Reconstruction, the 1927 Mississippi Flood, and the Great Depression.
- Todd Cleveland, Associate Professor, History, University of Arkansas
“Following the Ball: African Football Players, Labor Strategies, and Migration across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1945-75”
When the great soccer player Eusébio left the field following Portugal’s 2-1 defeat to England in the 1966 World Cup semifinals, he was awash in tears, fiercely clutching his red and green jersey – the national colors of Portugal. Yet, Eusébio was neither born nor grew up in the Iberian nation; instead, a Mozambican, he was one of the many Africans who migrated from Portugal’s colonial territories to the metropole from the late 1940s until the conclusion of the colonial period in 1975 in order to ply their athletic skills. Ultimately, these players’ experiences illuminate the cosmetic and limited nature of the Portuguese dictatorship’s (1926-74) labor and social reforms – even when applied to the nation’s highest-profile wage-earners – but also some of the ways that Africans could creatively, if carefully, exploit opportunities generated by shifts in the social, occupational, and political landscape in the waning decades of the Portuguese empire.
Refreshment Break 10:00am - 10:10am
Panel 2: Metropolitan Migrants
Moderated by Raoul Bozo, PhD Student, Romance Languages & Literature, University of Missouri
10:10am – 11:40am
- Janette Gayle, Assistant Professor, History, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
“Fashioning Community: African American and British West Indian Migrant Dressmakers in Early Twentieth Century Black New York City”
Historians have long understood the early twentieth century migrations from the American South and the British West Indies as unskilled. However, while many of the migrants were unskilled, immigration reports, passenger manifests, and anecdotal evidence indicate that a significant number were skilled. The bulk of the skilled female workers were dressmakers and seamstresses. Drawing on a variety of sources, including census data, newspaper reports, church records, and images, this paper sheds new light on the gendered and skilled aspects of the early twentieth century black migrations and expands our understanding of the role that women played in creating the black community that emerged in New York City at that time.
- Lorna Biddle Rinear, History, Framingham State University
“West Indians in Boston 1900-1930”
In this thirty-year period, the Anglophone West Indian population in Boston grew tenfold. In part, this was due to the fact that when European immigration during World War I was curtailed by the war, Americans turned to the West Indies for labor. By 1930, approximately 3,000 West Indians composed a definable community in Boston, whose members tenaciously retained their island identities and yet lived American lives. Since they were limited to low-paying, unskilled work, some started their own businesses; however, very few of them sought US citizenship or bought houses. This paper examines how island identities shaped West Indian life in early twentieth-century Boston.
- Courtney Joseph, Assistant Professor, History & African American Studies, Lake Forest College
“Where are all the Haitians in Chicago?: Churches and Digital Mapping Technologies”
Haitians have had a long history in Chicago, dating back to the founding of the city by Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a man of Haitian descent, around 1780. Since then, there have been important connections between Haiti and Chicago that laid the foundation for a diasporic community to form within the Midwestern metropolis in the late twentieth century. Haitian churches represent central institutions that keep this diaspora together and reveal how Haitians in Chicago remain connected despite spatial distance. This paper investigates the location of Haitian churches to show how these institutions have shaped the diaspora. Using oral history and digital mapping tools, the paper sheds light on the understudied Haitian diaspora in Chicago and how new communities of the African diaspora form based on spatial circumstance.
- Emmanuel Adeyemi, Journalist, The Sun, Nigeria
“Sex Trafficking: Examining the Booming Enterprise Between Nigeria And Europe”
The paper explains the upsurge of the multi-billion-dollar enterprise that has continued to make local and international headlines, having built massive networks in Nigeria, other African countries and Europe. The paper offers insight on how and why the dawn of the so-called Arab Spring in early 2011 has engendered normative and institutional change in human trafficking for sex work, a web of networks connecting countries together with the source, Nigeria, transit and destination, Libya, and the dreamed host continent, Europe, constituting a transnational social space facilitating trafficking flows.
Refreshment Break 11:40am - 11:50am
Panel 3: Migration and Postcolonial Africa
Moderated by Admire Mseba, Assistant Professor, Black Studies & History, University of Missouri
11:50am – 1:00pm
- Emmanuella Amoh, Teaching Assistant, History, Purdue University
“The Making of a New African Personality: African Americans in Nkrumah’s Ghana”
The Second World War and the Cold War had the greatest impact on transatlantic relations between Africans and diaspora Africans. Continental and diaspora Africans used the rhetoric of each other’s struggle for freedom as tools against colonialism and racial discrimination, respectively. During these periods, African nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, who led independence struggles in their respective countries, supported the US Civil Rights movement by drawing links between colonialism in Africa and racial discrimination in America. On the other side of the Atlantic, African American activists like WEB Du Bois, Paul Robeson, and Shirley Graham Dubois extended the fight against racial discrimination to include anticolonial measures. The impact of this transatlantic alliance against colonialism and racial discrimination was made more evident in the pursuit of a new African Personality, a racial uplift ideology that changed diaspora Africans’ relations with Africa. This paper seeks to measure the success and impact of the pursuit of a new African personality.
- Marame Gueye, Associate Professor, African & African Diaspora Literatures, East Carolina University
“A Woman is the Cure to Another Woman: Senegalese Women Migration and Digital Sisterhood”
In Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde tells us that “interdependency between women is the only way to the freedom which allows the ‘I’ to ‘be’ not in order to be used, but in order to be creative.” In Wolof (the lingua franca of Senegal), nit, nit moo’y garabam (a human being is the cure of another human being) and mbooloo moo’y indi doole (union creates power) are two concepts that recognize that without each other, people would not accomplish much. For immigrant women from Africa, these two concepts are central to their survival in the US because they were displaced from a region of the world where community, especially a community of women, constituted the ground on which they stood. Using Lorde’s statement and the Wolof concepts, this paper analyzes transnational women’s groups from Senegal on Facebook as they create a digital sisterhood away from the patriarchal gaze. Senegalese women around the world are creating a movement deeply rooted in a culture that views a woman as dependent on a community of other women in order to survive.
- Seth A. Compaore, PhD Candidate, Francophone & Film Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia
“Migration to France and the Colonial Past: The Journeys of Two African Doctors in S. Pierre Yaméogo’s Moi et Mon Blanc (2003) and Julien Rambaldi’s The African Doctor (2016)”
Recent Francophone films dealing with issues of immigration have met with success in major film festivals. Among these films, S. Pierre Yaméogo’s Moi et Mon Blanc and Julien Rambaldi’s The African Doctor are examples of an African’s outward journey into the space of his country’s former colonizing power and postcolonial history. In both films, the protagonist, a Sub-Saharan African, leaves his homeland (Burkina Faso and Zaïre) to study in France. Both films depict images typical of Sub-Saharan African films in which the African subject appears inferior to his former Western colonizers and both problematize the protagonist’s ultimate return to Africa. However, this paper argues that each of the films twist the traditional narrative of migration from Africa to France: in Moi et Mon Blanc when the main protagonist’s white counterpart leaves Paris for Burkina Faso; and in The African Doctor when the protagonist opts to live in an extremely rural village in the western world, which contrasts greatly with the urban African setting from which he departed. Also, while Mamadi in Moi et Mon Blanc returns to a disenchanted homeland and a corrupt government after completing his doctorate, Seyolo in The African Doctor renounces his homeland but relocates himself and his family to rural France.
Lunch Break 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Panel 4: Migrant Experiences
Moderated by Daive Dunkley, Associate Professor, Black Studies, University of Missouri
2:00pm – 3:10pm
- Megan K. Jeffreys, PhD Student, History, Cornell University
“Freedom on the Move by Sea: Evidence of Maritime Escape Strategies in American Runaway Slave Advertisements”
Recent targeted research analyzing newspaper advertisements reveals that, to an extent heretofore unappreciated, enslaved people frequently utilized the sea as a viable route to escape bondage, especially from the coastal regions and ports of the deep South. As fleeing individuals turned towards waterways to escape the bonds of slavery, slaveowners increasingly reflected their fears of fugitive egress by sea in their advertisements, warning the public to be vigilant in ports. Utilizing the data currently present in the new Freedom on the Move database, this paper focuses on waterborne escape as a prominent form of resistance in the context of United States slavery by illuminating the frequency and impact of advertisement trends and emphasizing the possible contributions that a single advertisement might provide when broken down to its most basic elements.
- J. Marlena Edwards, Assistant Professor, African American Studies & History, Pennsylvania State University
“Whaling Was A Passport: Black Immigrant Community Networks in Early 20th Century New England”
Between 1899 and 1936, approximately 145,000 African-descended people voluntarily migrated to the United States, mainly to New York City, Boston, and Miami. While scholars have focused on black immigrant contributions to local and national political movements, radicalism, and cultural expressions in these major hubs of migration, there has been little attention given to the experiences, life stories, and creative technologies of black immigrants outside of the metropolis. This paper, shifting the gaze from large cities to smaller spaces, seeks to elucidate the quotidian lives and practices of black immigrant social networks and communities. By focusing on everyday mundane community and social practices, the paper argues that these stories represent an under-researched aspect of early twentieth-century black immigrant life in the US. The paper engages a century-long view of Southeastern New England’s port city of New Bedford as an analytical site and place whereby Cape Verdean and West Indians’ alternate migration via whaling ships expands the geographic, social, and labor historiographies of black immigration.
- Emily Pope-Obeda, Assistant Professor, History, Lehigh University
“Black Deportees: Racial Policing and Migration Control in the Early Twentieth-Century United States”
In recent years, scholars and activists have noted the vulnerable position of black immigrants in the United States. As of 2016, black immigrants composed only 5% of the unauthorized population, but over 10% of all removal proceedings, and over 20% of those facing deportation on criminal grounds. But the use of the immigration bureaucracy as a tool of anti-black racial oppression is not new—it has deep, but understudied roots. Since at least the early twentieth century, immigration control has been used to regulate and discipline black foreign-born bodies at both the borders and within the interior of the nation. This paper examines the growing number of deportations of black immigrants during the interwar period. It focuses on the criteria which were most frequently applied to black deportees of the era: “likely to become a public charge,” which displayed beliefs about black female dependency; “constitutional psychopathic inferiority,” which demonstrated the persistence of eugenicist beliefs; and “insanity” marked by “overreligious” episodes, which stigmatized Afro-Caribbean religious practices. Deportation was also used to silence black leaders. The paper argues for a fuller examination of the intersection of migration control and anti-black racism.
Refreshment Break 3:10pm – 3:20pm
Panel 5: Exploring the Symbolic, Material, and Discursive Dimensions of Black Mobility
Moderated by Stephen Graves, Assistant Professor, Black Studies & Political Science, University of Missouri
Part 1 3:20pm – 4:30pm
- Nana Afua Yeboaa Brantuo, PhD Candidate, University of Maryland, College Park
“Meeting in the Metropole: African and Caribbean Students’ Mobilities in Twentieth-Century France and United Kingdom”
The purpose of this paper is to interrogate and reframe conventional understandings of the metanarrative of African and Caribbean student mobility, migration, and agency during the early half of the twentieth century.
- Anissa Chitwanga, PhD Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
“Navigating the Greener Pastures: An Analysis of African immigrants’ Experiences Upon Arrival in the United States and Access to Public Benefits”
This presentation examines the experiences of African immigrants arriving in the US and the challenges they face in accessing public benefits and how this affects their coping and wellbeing.
- Karen Flynn, Associate Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
“Unpacking EFL Teachers Experience and Understanding of Race and Racism in South Korea”
This presentation grapples with how to articulate experience and understandings of race and racism in the context of a country that is purportedly the second most homogenous country in the world, one without a history of anti-racist ideologies and very little encounter with black people.
Refreshment Break 4:30pm – 4:40pm
Panel 5: Exploring the Symbolic, Material, and Discursive Dimensions of Black Mobility
Moderated by Trica Keaton, Associate Professor, African & African American Studies, Dartmouth College
Part 2 4:40pm – 5:50pm
- Christina Harris, Visiting Instructor, Stockton University
“Building Bridges: Digital Pan-Africanism in Expat Travel Blogs”
This paper examines non-traditional forms of data, such as blogs and social media posts, with an emphasis on their significance as rich and meaningful sites for studying intercultural interactions and documenting black migrations in the digital age.
- Susan Ogwal, PhD Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
“African Mobility: A Historical Perspective of Immigration in the US”
This presentation discusses the specificity of and unique characteristics of African migrants to the United States, such as higher levels of education compared to the native-born population.
- Gorrety Wawire, PhD Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
“Constructing and Negotiating Blackness among African and African American Women in the US Diaspora”
This paper will use narrative analysis and ethnographic research to examine how African migrants and African American women use deictic reference (the use of pronouns in particular) as a stance-taking strategy to index and perform participants’ intersubjective relationships.
Closing Remarks 5:50pm – 6:00pm
Daive Dunkley, Symposium Co-Chair, Black Studies, University of Missouri