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Spring 2018

Screening: The Land Beneath Our Feet

Thursday, March 8 | 5:00pm | IU Libraries Screening Room, Wells 048

Join us for a screening of this important, award winning documentary.

"The Land Beneath Our Feet follows a young Liberian man, uprooted by war, who returns from the USA with never-before-seen footage of Liberia’s past. The uncovered footage is embraced as a national treasure. Depicting a 1926 corporate land grab, it is also an explosive reminder of eroding land rights. In post-conflict Liberia, individuals and communities are pitted against multinational corporations, the government, and each other in life-threatening disputes over land. What can this ghostly footage offer a nation, as it debates radical land reforms that could empower communities to shape a more diverse, stable and sustainable future?" (source:

A discussion with director Dr. Gregg Mitman and narrator Emmanuel Urey will follow the screening.

A roundtable discussion with several speakers, inclulding Dr. Mitman, is planned for Wednesday, March 7, 5:00pm, in the Grand Hall at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Dr. Mitman and Mr. Urey will also discuss documentary film making at the African Languages Program Friday Colloquium on March 9.

The African Studies Program thanks our co-sponsors:
Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Multicultural Affairs
College Arts & Humanities Institute (CAHI)
Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies
Black Film Center/Archive
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology
IU LIbraries
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center
Institute for Advanced Study

Fall 2017

Horizons of Knowledge Lecture: Dr. Benjamin Lawrance
Professor of History, University of Arizona

Tuesday, November 7 | 5:00pm | FA 102

"Africa’s First Failed Asylum Seeker? Dugmore Boetie’s Abortive Apartheid Exile"

The contemporary African migration crisis provides an opportunity to recover the lived truths of mass mobility alongside fears, hearsay, and rumor. Refugee narratives constitute an oral archive of persecutory histories; assembled, cataloged, and analyzed together, they contain embedded vocabulary and more that subtly recast statehood and national power. This presentation will look at the specific case study of Dugmore Boetie, a South African who wrote of life under Apartheid.

Dr. Lawrance is an internationally known legal historian and scholar, prolific writer and current editor-in-chief of the African Studies Review. His work in Africa and with West African migrants around the globe explores mobility, labor, and exploitation through time and space, and he has written about historical and contemporary slavery, human trafficking, cuisine and globalization, human rights, refugee issues and asylum policies.

Sponsored by the IU African Studies Program, the IU International Studies Program, the IU Department of Political Science, the IU Department of Anthropology, and the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program.

A reception will follow at 6:00pm in the GISB First Floor Lounge.

Special Guest Lecturer: Isabel Hofmeyr
Professor of African Literature, University of Witwatersrand and Global Distinguished Professor, New York University

Friday, November 3 | 4:00pm | IMU Sassafras Room

"Colonial Copyright, Customs and Port Cities: Intellectual Property and Material Histories"

Can colonial copyright provide us with accounts of intellectual property that complicate existing understandings which are largely extrapolated from European Histories?

Colonial copyright was shaped by the mobility of objects and texts and the attempts to govern them. The institutions that become analytically pertinent for understanding copyright are hence somewhat different from those established as normative in the European scholarship. One such site was Customs and Excise in the port city, the funnel through which all print material coming from outside the colony had to pass. Custom officials generally had little understanding of copyright legislation which encompassed a complex web of imperial law, colonial law, and the Berne Convention. Unable to fathom which law was supposed to apply where, customs officials had to elaborate their own sets of understandings and practices which they elaborated from their routines and procedures for governing and classifying the objects that passed through their jurisdiction. This talk traces such procedures, focusing on southern African colonial port cities and their maritime-border making processes in relation to both people and objects. It argues that we need to understand colonial copyright as part of this dockside or maritime-border making. Sponsored by the College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) and the African Studies Program.

"Medan vi lever (While We Live)"

September 28 | 7:00pm | IU Libraries Screening Room
Come see this story of a mother’s wish to leave Sweden and return to Gambia causes strife with her son, an aspiring Hip-Hop artist on the verge of success. A discussion with director Dani Kouyaté and Jane Bryce (University of West Indies) will follow at 9pm. This free program is presented by Beth Buggenhagen, Associate Professor of Anthropology, and the IU African Studies Program, with support from the Department of French & Italian, the Black Film Center/Archive, Black Camera, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of History, and the Institute for Advanced Study. Visit The Black Film Center/Archive for more information, and download the flyer here.

First Thursdays on the Arts Plaza

October 5 | 5:00pm - 8:00pm | The Arts Plaza
Join African Studies Program students and faculty in exploring the language of African clothing. Learn how to "speak" through cloth and proverbs, tie a headscarf, make an item of dress or jewelry, and see fabrics from across the continent. First Thursdays is an Arts & Humanities Council initiative begun last fall which celebrates the arts and humanities on the IU Bloomington campus. For more information visit The Arts and Humanities page.