Press Release: Public Conversation on Transnational Black Feminisms

In celebration of Black History Month, Winston-Salem State University will host a public conversation on “Transnational Black Feminisms: Black Women’s Activism in Brazil and the Americas,” on Wednesday, February 8, at 2 pm, in Diggs Gallery. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature invited scholars Dr. Kia Caldwell and Dr. Keisha-Khan Perry, and WSSU scholars Dr. Michele Lewis and Dr. Uchenna Vasser. Dr. Corey D. B. Walker, Dean of the College and John W. and Anna Hodgin Hanes Professor of the Humanities, will moderate the discussion. The conversation will center on the impact of Black women scholars and activists globally. The panelists will share their research on the work of Black women activists in Brazil, the US, and the Americas, and discuss the continuing need for Black women in the diaspora to organize, mobilize, and resist via knowledge production and activism, particularly in light of the implications of changing political leadership in Brazil and the U.S. for Black women.

Caldwell is an Associate Professor, African, African American & Diaspora Studies, and Director of Faculty Diversity Initiatives, College of Arts and Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on race, gender, health policy, HIV/AIDS, and human rights in Brazil and the U.S. Her book, Negras in Brazil: Re-envisioning Black Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Identity, was published by Rutgers University Press. Her new book Health Equity in Brazil: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Policy will be published by the University of Illinois Press in 2017. Dr. Caldwell is also the co-editor, with Dr. Sonia Alvarez, of a recent two-part special issue of the journal Meridians focusing on Afro-descendant Feminisms in the America. She received her A.B. in Spanish Literature and Civilization from Princeton University. She completed her M.A. in Latin American Studies and Ph.D. in Social Anthropology with a specialization in African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Perry is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and Visiting Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Her research focuses on race, gender and social movements in the Americas, urban geography and questions of citizenship, black women’s intellectual history, and the interrelationship between scholarship, pedagogy and political engagement. Winner of the National Women’s Studies Association 2014 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Award, her first book Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) is an ethnographic study of black women’s activism in Brazilian cities, especially in neighborhood movements for land and housing rights. She is currently writing her second book, Anthropology for Liberation: Research, Writing and Teaching for Social Justice. Perry completed her Ph.D. at the University of Texas-Austin, in the African Diaspora Program in Anthropology.

Lewis is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences at Winston-Salem State University. She has presented to audiences interested in minority health, African-centered psychology, and Black Studies. She specifically writes about and speaks about the significance of including homo-attractional and gender non-conforming people of African descent in outreach and research. She is the author of two books, Multicultural Health Psychology: Special Topics Acknowledging Diversity (Allyn and Bacon, 2002); and LGBT Psychology: Research Perspectives and People of African Descent (Springer, 2012). Lewis earned the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees at Howard University, and the B.S. degree at old Dominion University.

Vasser is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Chair, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Winston-Salem State University. Her areas of research and scholarship include Afro-Colombian and Afro-Cuban literatures focusing on such themes as transculturation, cultural hybridity, women and the environment, and identity construction. Among her recent publications are “Visions from the Margins: Miguel Barnet’s Biografía de un cimarrón and Ivor Miller’s Voice of the Leopard” (2015), “Africanidad and the Representation of the Female Character in Three Novels by Manuel Zapata Olivella” (2014), and “The Double Bind: Women and the Environment in Chambacú, Black Slum and A Saint is Born in Chimá by Manuel Zapata Olivella” (2013). Vasser earned the Ph.D. in Romance Languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the M.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures from the Ohio State University, and the B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Schiller International University.

Caldwell and Perry will also visit classes, and lead an informal faculty roundtable on “Decolonizing Brazilian Studies” to continue WSSU’s intellectual engagement with decolonizing knowledge through a discussion of Bahia/Brazil, and women’s studies at WSSU centering on Black women’s scholarship and activism.

The program is co-sponsored by the WSSU Office of International Programs, the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education, and the Institute for the Study of the Americas at UNC-Chapel Hill. For more information, contact OIP at 336-750-2306.

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