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Reimagining Zora: A Roundtable

Public Humanities

dateMay 3, 2023 timeWednesday, 5:00pm–6:30pm EDT locationVirtual Event
  • Arts and Sciences Graduate Council Diversity Initiative Grant
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Zora's Daughters Podcast
email address [email protected]
  • Registration required. See details.
Black blue and gold line/block drawing of a woman's face without features

i am accused of tending to the past / as if i made it, / as if i sculpted it / with my own hands.

In this poem, Lucille Clifton distinguishes between the past as the events occurring in the time before the present, and History, those events which have been given context: “faces, names, and dates.” As we speed toward the futures imagined by various groups with conflicting ideas about what the world should look like, there are fervent calls to invoke tradition and ancestors to lead the way. Optimistically, Zora Neale Hurston’s prescient approach to studying Black life—that integrates film, ethnography, song and literature—has been part of this recuperative practice; more problematically, these invocations and recontextualizations of the past slide into revisionist Histories that attempt to recover the kind of anthropological study that excluded the likes of Hurston.

With this roundtable, Zora's Daughters podcast co-hosts will be joined by artists and scholars from different disciplines to reflect upon conversations with anthropological ancestors and how these may or may not be a reflection of present imaginations, projections, and hopes for the future. What are the enduring ancestral entanglements of our intellectual genealogies? How can we embrace the opportunity for learning and growth the past offers without losing sight of the challenges and limitations of making it history?

Featuring speakers: Destiny Hemphill (ritual worker & poet) Ryan Jobson (Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago), Delande Justinvil (PhD Candidate, American University), and Jennifer Freeman Marshall (Associate Professor of English, Purdue University)

Moderated by Public Humanities fellows and Zora's Daughters hosts, Brendane Tynes (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology) and Alyssa James (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology)