Resisting Arrest: Black Artfulness and Survival — A One Day Symposium of Art and Resistance

Black bodies are endlessly rounded up. The state repeatedly reveals a promiscuous interest in the coercive aggregation, containment, and reduction of black life.  We are interested in the aesthetic resistances to these regulative practices.  What constitute the forms of artfulness that come out of the uncollectible, the phantasmatic, the unassembled,the disaggregative, the uncomposed, the untaxonomizable, or the unprecedented?  What forms of artfulness open up black radical feminist, black crip, and black queer futurities that might challenge the reach of the round up and enlarge the terrain of freedom?

This one-day symposium seeks to address these questions with presentations about artfulness that speak to these concerns, and the possibilities of Black survival.



All events beginning at 10 am and ending with lunch at 2 pm will take place in Smith Warehouse, C 105, Bay 4, Duke University
10:00-10:30:  Introductions

10:30-11:30:  “Black. Life. Matter.”
A Keynote Presentation by Nicole R. Fleetwood, Rutgers University
Introduction by Sarah Jane Cervenak, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
11:30-1:00:  Panel 1: After/Life, After/Law: Undoing this World’s Captivities 
“Call the Law: Before and After the Call and Response; or, The Sojourn to the Truth,” I. Augustus Durham, Duke University
“ the Spirit: Toward a Radical Black Womanist Choreo-Pneumatology of the 'Die-In,’" Eboni Marshall Turman, Duke University
“And the Fullness Thereof:  Wangechi Mutu’s Resistant Harvests,” Sarah Jane Cervenak, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
moderator:  Leila Villaverde, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
1:00-2:00:  Lunch
All events from 2:30p keynote until our reception will take place in the Richard White Lecture Hall, Duke University
2:30-3:30: “The Idea of Ancestry:  Tradition, Innovation, and Black Freedom Dreams”
A Keynote Presentation by Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University
Introduction by Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University
3:30-5:00: Panel 2:  Side/Line:  Moving Against Erasure
“BoneBreaking: Black Flexibility and Danced Oppositionality,” Thomas F. DeFrantz, Duke University
 “Gran Lakou Folklorik and Peace House: Queer Haitian Modes of Embodied Survival and Freedoms in Jacmel, Haiti,” Dasha A. Chapman, Duke University
“Regenerative Violence in the Walking Dead,” Sherronda Brown and Dayne Alexander, both at University of North Carolina-Greensboro
moderator:  Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University
5:00-5:30: Reception



Nicole R. Fleetwood

Director & Professor
Rutgers University

Nicole R. Fleetwood is Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author of Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press 2011), which was the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. 
Her book On Racial Icons, which is part of Rutgers University Press’s Pinpoint series, will be released in 2015. Currently, she is completing Carceral Aesthetics: Prison Art and Public Culture, a study of prison art and visuality.

Keynote Address:
“Black.Life.Matter.”: How have social media activism and grassroots organizing created visual material and archives to enact black life as matter? How do we mobilize the dead and the erased to reveal the lived experience of black subjects? From campaigns that deploy the posthumous icon as a badge of collective solidarity and a demand for recognition to the visual and archival practices of the millions who live in carceral institutions, the talk meditates on how the dead come to life, the unseen claim recognition, and the disregarded forms circles of love and hope through a declaration that black life matters.

Farah Jasmine Griffin

Columbia University

Farah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University.  She is the author of a number of books including Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative and Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II.

Keynote Address:
“The Idea of Ancestry: Tradition, Innovation, and Black Freedom Dreams”: Etheridge Knight's poem, "The Idea of Ancestry" provides an opening for this rumination on the life giving force of Black creativity.  How does tradition nourish and limit our sense of collective possibility?  How do innovative, creative, and visionary artists, intellectuals and organizers use the past to forward a new world? These are some of the considerations taken up in this talk.

Dwayne Alexander

Course Instructor

Dayne Alexander is a second year Women’s & Gender Studies MA student, graduate assistant, and course instructor at UNCG. She has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Appalachian State University. Dayne’s main research interests are posthumanist ecofeminisms and critical animal studies. Her prospective thesis will discuss the ways in which veganism is read as terrorism and non-human animal violences are patriotic texts in a post-9/11 political landscape. She plans to pursue her doctorate in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies or American Studies.

Sherronda Brown


Sherronda Brown graduated from UNCG in 2012 with a BA in English, a BA in Media Studies, and a Certificate in WGS. She is currently pursuing an MA in WGS, and hopes to eventually counsel survivors of sexual assault and intimate/situational partner violence. Her thesis, “The Haunted Ground We Walk On: (Un)Knowable Gendered and Racialized Subjects,” combines her academic interests of film/media criticism and feminist theory.  It investigates constructions of gender and race in popular haunting narratives, naming the ghostly figures as cinematic manifestations of cultural fears and historical traumas.

Sarah Jane Cervenak

Assistant Professor

Sarah Jane Cervenak is an assistant professor, jointly appointed in the Women’s and Gender Studies and African American and African Diaspora Studies programs at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.  Her areas of research and teaching are critical race theory, feminist theory, Black studies, performance studies and philosophy.  Her current work queries the Black radical, feminist potential of gathering in the art of Leonardo Drew, Gayl Jones and Wangechi Mutu.  She is the author of Wandering: Philosophical Performances of Racial and Sexual Freedom (Duke University Press, September 2014). 

Dasha A. Chapman

Postdoctoral Associate
Duke University

Dasha A. Chapman is the Postdoctoral Associate in the African & African American Studies Department at Duke University.  Chapman received her Ph.D. from the Department of Performance Studies at NYU.  Her research focuses on contemporary Haitian dance artists and the political and ethical dimensions of the communities they sustain in both Haiti and its diasporas of New York and Boston.  She is a dancer of Haitian, West African, and Afro-Cuban techniques, and also performs with contemporary choreographers in New York City.

Thomas F. DeFrantz

Duke University

Thomas F. DeFrantz is Professor and Chair of African and African American Studies at Duke University, and director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. He founded and continues to convene the Black Performance Theory working group. In 2013, working with Takiyah Nur Amin and an outstanding group of artists and researchers, he founded the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, which will stage an international conference on New Black Dance Studies and Afrofuturism at Duke in February, 2016.

I. Augustus Durham

Doctoral Candidate
Duke University

I. Augustus Durham is a third-year doctoral candidate in English at Duke University. His work focuses on blackness, melancholy, and genius, and more specifically how such an affective mood becomes the catalyst for both aesthetic and critical practices in and of the black radical tradition. This work intermixes aspects of French philosophy, religion, psychoanalysis and literary criticism.

Eboni Marshall Turman

Assistant Research Professor
Duke University

Eboni Marshall Turman is Assistant Research Professor of Black Church Studies and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke University, The Divinity School.   She is the author of Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation: Black Bodies, the Black Church, and the Council of Chalcedon (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Eboni is currently working on her second book, tentatively titled, Black Women’s Burden: Sexism, Sacred Witness, and Transforming the Moral Life of the Black Church.  She is a former professional dancer, having trained since childhood, taught, and performed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation.

Mark Anthony Neal

Duke University

Mark Anthony Neal is Professor of African & African American Studies and the founding director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship (CADCE) at Duke University where he offers courses on Black Masculinity, Popular Culture and Digital Humanities. He is the author of several books including the recent Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities (NYU Press).  The 10th Anniversary edition of Neal’s New Black Man was published in February of 2015 by Routledge. Neal is co-editor of That's the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge), now in its second edition. Neal is also the host of the video webcast "Left of Black," which is produced in collaboration with the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke. You can follow him on Twitter at @NewBlackMan.

Leila Villaverde

Associate Professor

Leila Villaverde is Associate Professor of Cultural Foundations in the Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations and Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and cross-appointed in Women’s & Gender Studies. She is also Senior Editor for The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. She teaches courses on curriculum studies, history of education, gender studies, visual literacy and aesthetics, and critical inquiry. She has written books on white privilege, secondary education, and feminist theories; chapters and articles on formations of representations and materiality, critical visual studies pedagogy, aesthetics, and critical pedagogy.

Resisting Arrest: Black Artfulness and Survival — A One Day Symposium of Art and Resistance
February 13, 2015
Duke University