Currents of the Black Atlantic
2014 ESA Conference, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Thursday, March 13, 2014 and Friday, March 14, 2014

Opening Keynote: David Scott, Columbia University
Closing Keynote: Sibylle Fischer, New York University

About: The English Student Association (ESA) of The Graduate Center, CUNY’s English doctoral program annually hosts an interdisciplinary graduate student conference that features panelists within and outside of CUNY. On behalf of the English Department’s doctoral student body, the elected co-organizers are hosting a conference that celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (1993). This year’s interdisciplinary conference is inspired by graduate courses and public lectures offered during the 2013-2014 academic year by The Black Atlantic @ Twenty (BA@20) initiative. BA@20 is a collaborative initiative that brings together teacher-scholars from The Graduate Center of CUNY and New York University. Out of this initiative, a series of credited seminars have been offered throughout 2013-2014 that provide doctoral students with opportunities to examine the legacy of Gilroy’s work and related conversations that emerged after the publication of The Black Atlantic. The conference intends to offer a space for students and faculty to continue the conversations that emerge from these courses and from past interdisciplinary seminars offered by CUNY’s Center for Humanities, such as the Atlantic Studies Seminar (2009-2010), Caribbean Epistemologies Seminar (2011-Present), and Revolutionizing American Studies Seminar (2011-Present). The ESA conference is open to participation and attendance by all CUNY students, and we welcome the work of students and faculty from across disciplines, from outside the city and region.

Call for Papers: Two decades since its publication, Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (1993) united conversations about race, place, diaspora, and slavery within the Atlantic world. This interdisciplinary conference takes as its point of departure Gilroy’s ethos of looking outside of and challenging established categories (such as those determined by nationalist modes of thought). In the spirit of thinking both with and beyond the Black Atlantic paradigm this conference seeks to create a space for scholars to negotiate its theoretical limits while gesturing towards alternative frames and futures for the Black Atlantic. This interdisciplinary conference revisits the roots and routes, the genealogies and the futures, of The Black Atlantic.

We invite critical and methodological conversations among students and faculty who have been theorizing ways that rethink diaspora, transatlantic cultures, race, historiographies, and notions of “modernity.” The conference aims to bring together scholars across disciplines and bridge conversations that will shift the grounds, directions, and temporalities of the Black Atlantic.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Memory, Subjectivity, and the Black Diaspora

  • Remapping the Spatiotemporalities of the Black Atlantic

  • Early Modern Atlantic Crossings and Early Transatlantic Exchanges

  • Engenderings and Queerings of the Black Atlantic

  • Sounds and Music of the Middle Passage

  • Transatlantic Affective Economies

  • Black Atlantic Matter(s): Things and Objects of the Middle Passage

  • Ethics, Archives, and Historiographies of the Black Atlantic

  • The Black Pacific; Intersections of Race and Labor

  • Latin American and/or Caribbean Studies and the Black Atlantic

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, along with a 3-5 line bio, contact information, and a/v requests to BlackAtlanticCurrents@gmail.com. Additionally, feel free to submit abstracts as a fully formed panels and/or roundtables. We also welcome suggestions for non-traditional conference presentations. The deadline for abstracts and other proposals is December 31st, 2013. Participants will be notified by the end of January.