Dear ASWAD members and friends,

We have just concluded our Sixth Biennial Conference in Pittsburgh, which proved to be a wonderful success thanks to the contributions and energies of all our presenters, organizers, exhibitors, and community partners. The caliber of the scholarship, the collegiality of participants, and the sense of shared mission are hallmarks of ASWAD conferences that create for a vibrant and meaningful exchange, and this conference certainly was rich in that regard. ASWAD's continued growth as an institution dedicated to the expansion and dissemination of knowledge about the African diaspora is a collective project, and we could not succeed without all that each of you bring to that effort.

The Executive Board would like to extend special thanks to the Program Committee, the Local Arrangements committee, and our institutional partners for their outstanding work in bringing the conference together. Additionally, we were especially appreciative of the powerful address delivered by our keynote speaker, Dr. Micere M. Githae Mugo. Finally, we thank and recognize the contributions of our outgoing Executive Board members, and our outgoing director, Dr. Abena P.A. Busia.

As we move forward, we will be working to implement many of the suggestions raised at the conference, both formally and informally, to help ASWAD fulfill its mission even more effectively. I look forward to working with all of you towards that end.

We also look forward to seeing you and your colleagues at the next ASWAD conference, to be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2013. We will be posting further details on that conference in the coming months.

On behalf of the entire Executive Board, thank you again for your continuing support of ASWAD.


Kim D. Butler
Director, ASWAD

Conference Theme
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African Liberatioin and Black Power: The Challenges of Diasporic Encounters Across Time, Space and Imagination

In 1954, novelist and intellectual Richard Wright published Black Power, a provocative book in which Wright offered his reflections on his travels to the Gold Coast as it was in the process of becoming the independent nation of Ghana. The term "Black Power" that Wright used to signify the possibilities of freedom and development for Africans, as well as Pan-African cultural connections, would become a familiar notion to people of African descent around the world, who identified with its potent message for liberation and cultural revitalization. In so doing, Wright opened a new chapter in the long history of political and intellectual dialogue across the African Diaspora-one that revealed both the convergences and ruptures between people of African descent on the continent and in Diaspora.

For its sixth biennial conference, to be held in Pittsburgh, ASWAD explores the theme "African Liberation and Black Power: The Challenges of Diasporic Encounters Across Time, Space and Imagination." This conference intends to appreciate the Diasporic dimensions and articulations of Black Power, with special emphasis on Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia by tracing the genealogies of the concept and challenging localized limitations of Black Power scholarship.

Though the term "Black Power" is most frequently associated with the political and cultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, the drive to valorize blackness and Africanity/Africanité was broadly shared throughout Africa and the African Diaspora. Black Power was a transnational phenomenon; in addition to the U.S., organizations, activists, artists, and politicians in Canada, Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, Bermuda, UK, South Africa, Zaire, and elsewhere explicitly identified themselves as adhering to Black Power. Each of these local movements responded in unique ways, but remained in dialogue with peoples of African descent and other peoples seeking creative responses to oppressive regimes. At the same time, 1970s black feminist organizations such as the Combahee River Collective (USA) and the Southall Black Sisters (UK), as well as writers such as Claudia Jones, Audre Lorde and Bessie Head, openly contested the masculinist, heteronormative tendencies within Black Power. Indeed, Diasporic feminists often imagined freedom in far more expansive political and aesthetic terms than their male counterparts.

In exploring Black Power as a global phenomenon, ASWAD encourages the submission of papers that interrogate the elements that define Black Power, its multiple locations, and articulations, its gendered and sexual contours, the transnational connections that informed and nurtured it as well as global and local cultural and political projects that revitalize it in the twenty-first century. In addition, we seek to identify the antecedents of Black Power, and historicize it within the trajectories of African and African Diasporic literature, culture, media, philosophy, politics, and the academy itself, as well as its relationship to health and environmental issues. The cultural and ideological foundations of Black Power had deep roots in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and, as such, ASWAD encourages papers that excavate the origins of the cultural, intellectual, and political expressions that gave birth to the liberation struggles of the 20th century. All geographic areas will be represented, including Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Paper and panel proposals that incorporate women, gender, and sexuality as categories of analysis are encouraged.

Conference Site
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The University of Pittsburgh is hosting the conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The city of Pittsburgh resonates well with the broad experience of the African Diaspora. Martin Delany, arguably the leading figure in Pan-African politics of the mid-19th century, made Pittsburgh the basis of his participation in North American conferences and his 1859 West African visit. The black community of Western Pennsylvania, including a number directly from Africa and as well as others from Virginia, the northeast U.S., and (subsequently) Alabama, has been documented recently in a major museum exhibit, "Free at Last?" supported by the University of Pittsburgh and displayed at the Heinz History Center. The Pittsburgh Courier, founded in 1907, was a leading regional and national African American newspaper for much of the 20th century.

Pittsburgh was and is a town centered on work and workers. Its commercial ties link it by river to New Orleans and by rail to New York City, Baltimore, and Chicago. Its steel, glass, and paint link it to the rest of the world. With global economic ties came global cultural ties: Pittsburgh's classical musicians of the 19th century were black; in the 20th century the city became a hub of jazz music; today it remains a center of doo-wop nostalgia. Playwright August Wilson wrote his cycle of ten plays based on Pittsburgh's Hill District; some of his plays were inspired by images of the visual artist Romare Bearden. In 2009, a magnificent August Wilson Cultural Center opened in the heart of downtown, near to the Heinz History Center. Today, African Americans are about 25% of Pittsburgh's population of 300,000, and about 20% of Allegheny County's population. Small but culturally active African communities (with the obvious overlap of the two) expand the diversity of the region.

Western Pennsylvania was a key battleground in the 2008 presidential election, and went solidly for Obama. Based on his campaign experience, President Obama chose to hold the 2009 G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, to highlight the success of the city in navigating the economic and social problems of our era.

For the conference, sessions will be held in the elegantly refurbished University Club on the University of Pittsburgh campus; hotels are within walking distance. On Saturday night of the conference, the annual Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar will take place in the Carnegie Music Hall; the Carnegie Museum exhibit on the work of "Teenie" Harris, the famed Pittsburgh Courier photographer, opens at the beginning of the ASWAD conference-both venues are next to the Pitt campus. We also hope to have an event at the August Wilson Center.

Conference Registration
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Jazz Concert Reservations
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41st annual Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar & Concert
Concert Saturday November 5, 8:00 p.m.
Carnegie Music Hall (adjacent to University of Pittsburgh campus)
Ticket purchase and seat reservation - first come, first served

Other Conference Events
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Thursday, November 3, 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Opening reception: Hall of Sculpture, Carnegie Museum of Art (adjacent to University of Pittsburgh campus)
Featuring the photos of celebrated Pittsburgh Courier photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris.
Welcome by Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.

Friday, November 4, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
University of Pittsburgh Reception, hosted by the Office of Public Affairs
Twentieth Century Club (adjacent to University of Pittsburgh campus)
Welcome by ASWAD Director Abena Busia.

Friday, November 4, 9: 00 p.m. to midnight
Dance Party, sponsored by Local Arrangements Committee,
Twentieth Century Club.

Saturday, November 5, 4:00 - 6:30 p.m.
Tour of Pittsburgh's historic Hill District
Bus tour with commentary by Terri Baltimore of Hill House Association
Reception at Hill House (

Accommodations/Hotel Reservations
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The Holiday Inn will serve as the main host hotel, although most of the sessions will be held at the University Club of the University of Pittsburgh. A block of rooms has been reserved, but availability will diminish quickly. Information on the Holiday Inn, as well as alternative hotels, is provided below; when making reservations, simply indicate that you are an ASWAD conference participant to get the special rate:

Holiday Inn - Pittsburgh University Center
125 rooms
$124 + tax
$10 a day parking
Reservations must be received by 10/14/2011

Courtyard by Marriott Shadyside/Oakland

30 rooms
$134.00 + tax
$17.88 Valet parking a day
Reservations must be received by 10/06/2011

Wyndham Hotel Pittsburgh University Place
75 rooms
$125 + tax
$17.00 a day parking
Reservations must be received by 10/01/2011
Pittsburgh Athletic Association
15 rooms
Prices vary
Reservations must be received by 10/06/2011

Residence Inn by Marriott Pittsburgh University/Medical Center
30 rooms
$119.00 + tax
$13.50 a day parking
Reservations must be received by 10/13/2011

See you in Pittsburgh!

Conference Organizing Committee
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ASWAD Director
Abena Busia

Conference Co-Chairs
Leslie Alexander
Michael Gomez

Local Organizing Committee
Committee Co-Chairs
Brenda Berrian
Patrick Manning

Committee Members
(from 5 Pittsburgh-area institutions)
Joseph Adjaye
Jerome Branche
Joe Coohill
Yolanda Covington
Seymour Drescher
Veronica Dristas
Larry Feick
Edda Fields-Black
Joshua Forrest
Laurence Glasco
Shelome Gooden
Robert Hill
Katharine Jones
Ottie Lee
Robert Maxon
Lara Putnam
Jean-Jacques Sene
Rebecca Shumway
Joe Trotter

ASWAD Executive Board of Directors
Leslie M. Alexander
Jean Allman
Hilary Beckles
Jerome Branche
Abena Busia
Kim D. Butler
Carol Boyce Davies
Jualynne E. Dodson
Chouki El Hamel
Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe
Francis Abiola Irele
Fatimah Jackson
Mona Lima
Patrick Manning
Erik McDuffie
Wania Sant'Anna
Kelvin A. Santiago-Valles
Verene A. Shepherd
Elisee Soumonni
Filomina Steady