A Two-Day Symposium

On the Matter of Blackness in Europe: Transnational Perspectives

Thursday, October 10th, 2019 and Friday, October 11th, 2019

UCLA Charles E. Young Grand Salon (Kerckhoff Hall)

(308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095)


“On the Matter of Blackness in Europe: Transnational Perspectives” is a two-day international symposium taking place at UCLA on October 10-11, 2019. The symposium seeks to dismantle the perceived homogeneity of Black transnational and anticolonial experiences by attending to how various struggles for Black lives unfold. Scholars, artists, and activists will discuss articulations of relational Black solidarities and struggles for Black lives across Europe, foregrounding less-explored paradigms of Black formations, creations, improvisations, and struggles throughout Europe and beyond. Participants will engage with the lived experiences of Blackness and Black political struggles across various geopolitical sites and dynamic encounters within the European context. Further, this even will interrogate the power relations at work within academic scholarship that determines what becomes monolithically referred to as “Black Europe.” The symposium will feature a keynote address from Gloria Wekker (Utrecht).


9:00am Invocation/Welcome

9:30am-11:00am: Fugitive Memories, Black Spatialities | Moderated by Robin D.G. Kelley, UCLA

  • Raphaëlle Rabanes (Berkeley), “Resounding the Presence of the Ancestors: Guadeloupean Carnival, Movement Politics, and the Fraught Affirmation of a Black Caribbean TimeSpace”
  • Jamele Watkins (Stanford), “Anger and Silence: Black East German History”
  • Heather Merrill & Donald Carter (Hamilton), “Blackness Ascendant: Place, Loss, and Memory”

11:10am-12:40pm: Black Movement Formations | Moderated by Margo Okazawa-Rey (Mills)

  • Pamela Ohene-Nyako (Geneva), “Internationalist Women of African Descent & Blackness, 1970-1985”
  • Oda-Kange Midtvåge Diallo (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), “Creating ‘Black’ Spaces – How African-Norwegian (Everyday) Activists Try to Build a Sustainable Community in Oslo”
  • Jean Beaman (UCSB), “Anti-Racism without Race: The Possibilities and Constraints of Black LivesMatter in France”

12:45pm-2:00pm Lunch                                                                                                     

2:10pm-3:40pm: Speaking B(l)ack with/and the Archives | Moderated by Shelleen Greene, UCLA

  • Emma-Lee Amponsah (Ghent University), “Kreyolization: Resisting Assimilation Violences in Dutch and Flemish Education”
  • Esther Mugambi (Artist), “How Do You Observe a Stone That is About to Strike You?”
  • Jessica de Abreu (The Black Archives) and Mitchell Esajas (New Urban Collective), “The Black Archives: The Genealogy of Anti-Racism in the Netherlands”   

3:45pm-4:00pm Coffee Break

4:00pm-5:30pm: Black Poesis and Aesthetic Mediations in Europe | Moderated by Eddie Bruce-Jones, Birkbeck

  • Jeannette Oholi (Gießen), “Negotiating Blackness in Contemporary Afro-German Poetry”
  • Tonica Hunter & Adia Trischler (Artist Collective), “SERIES: BLACK”

5:30pm Closing Remarks: Gaye Theresa Johnson, UCLA


9:00am-10:30am: Subverting Stages and Spaces | Moderated by Ugo F. Edu, UCLA

  • Obenewaa Oduro-Opuni (Arizona State), “Transnational Points of Contact: 18th Century German Abolitionist Theater”
  • Mélanie Pétrémont (Geneva), “Laughing Back at Racism and Whiteness in Europe”
  • Jeannette Ehlers (Artist) & Elizabeth Löwe Hunter (Berkeley), “The Aftermath of Danish Colonialism”

10:40am-12:10pm: Racialized Knowledges | Moderated by Yasemin Yildiz, UCLA

  • Gian-Louis Hernandez (Università della Svizzera italiana), “Black European PhD Students: An Affective Inquiry”
  • Zavier Wingham (NYU), “‘Eating the Other’: Metaphors of the Racialized Body in Turkey”
  • Tiffany Florvil (New Mexico), “Black German Cultural Interventions in the Magazine afro look

12:15pm-1:30pm Lunch

1:45pm-3:15pm Borderscapes, Colonial Memories, and Policing the Crisis | Moderated by Felice Blake (UCSB)

  • Furat Abdulle, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
  • Eddie Bruce-Jones, Birkbeck School of Law
  • SA Smythe, UCLA
  • Vanessa E. Thompson, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

3:15pm-3:30pm Break

3:30pm-4:45pm Keynote Lecture: Gloria Wekker (Utrecht), “Beyond White Innocence”

5:00pm-5:30pm Thinking Black Studies in/and Europe: Collective Reflections | Moderated by Marcus Anthony Hunter, UCLA

5:30pm-6:30pm Reception


The event will be held at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Grand Salon (Kerchoff Hall, 308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095). We recommend using Parking Structure 4, which is located at 221 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA according to the UCLA Map. Please go to the UCLA Visitor Parking page for more details.

“On the Matter of Blackness in Europe: Transnational Perspectives” is sponsored by the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI); the UCLA Dept. of African American Studies, the UCLA Dept. of European Languages and Transcultural Studies; UCLA Dean of Humanities; UCLA Dean of Social Sciences; the Institute on Inequality and Democracy; the Center for the Study of Women; the Center for the Study of Religion; the UCLA Dept. of Anthropology, the UCLA Dept. of Gender Studies, the UCLA Dept. of Geography, the UCLA Dept. of History, the UCLA Dept. of Philosophy, the UCLA Dept. of Sociology, and the UCLA Theater Department.

Co-Organized by SA Smythe (UCLA) and Vanessa Thompson (Goethe)


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