2011-2012 Academic Year: “Cross-Currents: Oceanic Connections and Movements”

Read the full scoop here. Some highlights are included below:

Talk by Dr. Isaiah H. Walker

When: April 25, 2012, 4pm
Where: McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB, UCSB

The author of Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in 20th Century Hawaii will be speaking, following an introduction by Dr. Teresa Shewry (UCSB, English) of the Center for Literature and the Environment.

Surfing has been a significant sport and cultural practice in Hawai’i  for more than 1,500 years. In the last century, facing increased marginalization on land, many Native Hawaiians have found refuge,  autonomy, and identity in the waves. In Waves of Resistance Isaiah Walker explains that throughout the twentieth century Hawaiian surfers  have successfully resisted colonial encroachment in the po’ina nalu  (surf zone). The struggle against foreign domination of the waves goes back to the early 1900s, shortly after the overthrow of the Hawaiian  kingdom, when proponents of this political seizure helped establish  the Outrigger Canoe Club’s haoles (whites)-only surfing organization  in Waikiki. A group of Hawaiian surfers, led by Duke Kahanamoku, united under Hui Nalu to compete openly against their Outrigger rivals  and established their authority in the surf.

Walker also examines how Hawaiian surfers have been empowered by their  defiance of haole ideas of how Hawaiian males should behave. For example, Hui Nalu surfers successfully combated annexationists,  married white women, ran lucrative businesses, and dictated what non-Hawaiians could and could not do in their surf, even as the  popular, tourist-driven media portrayed Hawaiian men as harmless and  effeminate. Decades later, the media were labeling Hawaiian surfers as violent extremists who terrorized haole surfers on the North Shore.  Yet Hawaiians contested, rewrote, or creatively negotiated with these stereotypes in the waves. The po’ina nalu became a place where  resistance proved historically meaningful and where colonial  hierarchies and categories could be transposed.

While born and raised in Keaukaha Hawai`i, Isaiah Walker is currently an Associate Professor of History at Brigham Young University- Hawaii  on O`ahu’s North Shore. He earned a PhD in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006. He is the author of several academic articles, and has most recently published Waves of  Resistance: Surfing and History in Twentieth Century Hawai`i. In addition to researching and writing Hawaiian and surfing history, he  is an avid (and former competitive) surfer.

Talk by Dr. Yolanda Covington-Ward

“‘A War Between Soldiers and Prophets’: Embodied Resistance in Colonial Belgian Congo”

When: Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 4-5 p.m.
Where: NH 1106

On April 6, 1921, a MuKongo man by the name of Simon Kimbangu laid his hands on a sick woman in the name of Jesus Christ, prayed, and began to tremble. The miraculous healing that resulted was the impetus for kingunza, or prophetic movements, which spread throughout the Lower Congo region and provoked responses of confusion and fear amongst the Belgian colonial administration. Based on fourteen and a half months of ethnographic and archival research, this paper places the body and embodied practices at the center of an analysis of Kongo colonial-era prophetic movements. I use personal interviews as well as documents from the American and British Baptist Missionary Societies and Belgian colonial archives in order to examine spirit possession and trembling (kuzakama) as sites of moral and political contestation between the church, colonial state, and the indigenous population in the Lower Congo. In the Belgian Congo, kingunza were seen as subversive movements that menaced the colonial administration and the hegemony of the European-led missions. This paper demonstrates that, through what I call “performative encounters,” prophets and other adherents of the kingunza movements used a type of alternative legitimacy gained from the spiritual realm to subvert Belgian colonial authority, using Kongo bodies as the key weapons of resistance while simultaneously transforming the local religious landscape.

Yolanda Covington-Ward is Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Her research, which is based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, looks at the various ways that the body is used to transform power relations and group identities through everyday performances. She has previously published in the journals Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Transforming Anthropology, African Research and Documentation, The Journal of Religion in Africa, and The Journal of Black Studies. She also has a chapter in the edited volume Missions, States, and European Expansion in Africa (Routledge 2007). Yolanda is currently working on revising her manuscript, Gesture and Power: The Politics of Everyday Performance in Congo, for publication as a monograph. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, such as a Fulbright award and the Andrew Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies.

::Bodies in Space: Flow/s:: A Guerrilla-Style Performance & Theory Bake-Off

When: May 11th and 12th, 2012
Where: UC Santa Barbara, Student Resource Building MultiPurpose Room

::Bodies in Space: Flow/s:: is a two-day graduate event that begins with a series of roundtables and ends with a guerrilla-style performance. Highlights of the program include a master class with theatre artist Sharon Bridgforth, and a keynote address by cultural critic Dr. Jennifer Brody.

Also, check out this incredible article by PhD Candidate Amanda Phillips on her HASTAC blog (and cross-posted at UC Humanities Forum). It includes a list of participants, co-sponsors, and more information about Sharon Bridgforth’s master class, “Finding Voice,” and Dr. Brody’s keynote address, “Performing Precarity.”

“Gender, Creative Dissidence, and the Discourses of African Diaspora: A colloquium in honor of Ama Ata Aidoo’s 70th birthday”

When: May 24-26th, 2012
Where: UC-Santa Barbara, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC), McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020)
Description: Our three-day conference will explore the intricacies of Aidoo’s work and the broader questions of Diaspora and gender they raise. Scheduled for May 24-26, 2012, the colloquium uniquely coincides with two major events: the year of Ama Ata Aidoo’s 70th birthday, and the UCSB Theater & Dance department’s Spring 2012 production of Anowa. Ms. Aidoo will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

Caribbean Crossroads Conference

When: Feb 21 – 22, 2012
Where: McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB, UCSB

Description: This conference explores the interactions and points of contact between the different cultural and linguistic zones that make up the Caribbean region, in support of a less insular, more archipelagic sense of Caribbean culture. Contemporary Caribbean cultures are, as we know, the result of a complex mix of influences from around the world. Centuries before the term globalization was coined, the region occupied a strategic point in a global network of trade, communication, and, of course, labor. More recently, theories of intercultural hybridization and creolization have been central to debates over the cultural identity of the region. But what about the flows of culture within the region? Despite repeated calls for “charting the Caribbean as a literary region” (A. James Arnold), literary scholars have been much less adept than (for example) musicologists at tracing intra-Caribbean cultural exchange. This is due, in part, to the linguistic borders between the islands‑‑themselves a direct legacy of the region’s colonial history‑‑a fact that suggests the importance of comparatist and multilingual techniques for developing a better understanding of the region’s place within world literature.

More info: http://www.ihc.ucsb.edu/caribbean-crossroads/