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Djarah Akan
Writer, Singer, Blogger Read More ...
Cristina Ali Farah
Writer Read More ...
ReSignifications: The Black Mediterranean
Djarah Akan
Writer, Singer, Blogger

In the 1980s my mother arrived in Italy just by mistake. Her fl ight was going to the UK where some friends and parents lived. The fl ight transited in Italy but once she got off the plane she lost her passport so, from that moment on, she couldn’ t move anywhere without documents. She decided to stay in Italy as an illegal immigrant. Twenty-fi ve years later, my life and everything I am is the direct result of that one and only missed fl ight to the United Kingdom.

Cristina Ali Farah

Cristina Ali Farah was born in Verona, Italy, in 1973 of a Somali father and an Italian mother. She grew up in Mogadishu but fled at the outbreak of the civil war at the age of eighteen. She now lives in Rome, where she teaches Somali language and culture at Roma Tre University. She is a poet, novelist, playwright, and oral performer. Her short stories (Punt Rap, Habryar, Entirely) have won several awards, including the Lingua Madre National Literary Prize. Her fist novel Madre piccola (2007) was awarded the prestigious Vittorini Literary Prize and has been translated into Dutch and English with the title Little Mother (Indiana University Press, 2011). She regularly writes for the political weekly Internazionale and ´The Black Blog´ of Vogue Italia. Her second novel Il comandante del fiume (The River Captain) was published this October.

Awam Amkpa
Associate Professor, Social and Cultural Analysis, Faculty of Arts and Science; Undergraduate Drama, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Awam Amkpa is a scholar and writer examining the topics of modernisms in theatre, postcolonial theatre, Black Atlantic issues, and film studies. Before joining NYU, he had been a Senior Lecturer of Drama and Television at King Alfred’s University College, Winchester, England, and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires (London: Routledge, 2003) and the forthcoming Archetypes, Stereotypes and Polytypes: Theatres of the Black Atlantic. He has also directed film documentaries such as Winds Against Our Souls, Its All About Downtown, and National Images and Transnational Desires, and the feature film Wazobia!.

Liz Andrews
George Mason University and LACMA

Liz Andrews is an artist, scholar, and arts administrator. Her academic work is focused on art, media, music, visual culture, and struggles for representation. She is also Executive Administrator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) where she works closely with the Director.

Anna Arabindan-Kesson
Princeton University

Anna Arabindan-Kesson is an assistant professor of Black Diasporic art at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, empire, and transatlantic visual culture and her fi rst book, under contract with Duke University Press is called Black Bodies White Gold: Art, Cotton and Commerce in the Atlantic World.

Kajahl Benes
New York Academy of Art

Kajahl Benes was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. He received a BFA from San Francisco State University and spent his fi nal year studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, Italy. In the spring of 2012 he received his MFA from Hunter College in New York City.

Kalia Brooks Nelson
New York University

Kalia Brooks is a New York-based independent curator and writer. Brooks is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has published widely on contemporary art.

Angela Caponnetto
Rainews24 - RAI TV

Angela Caponnetto was born in Palermo. She moved to Rome, becoming a reporter for RAI, the Italian National Television. She works for the all-news network Rainews24. She has been one of the national main voices reporting on migratory flows from Africa through the Mediterranean to Italy.

Monica Cardim

Mônica Cardim is Photographer and PhD student in Arts from the Esthetic and Art History Inter Units Program of the University of São Paulo. From an interdisciplinary approach she researches the representation of black people in photographic portraits of German Alberto Henschel produced in nineteenth-century Brazil.

Luigi Cazzato
University of Bari “Aldo Moro”

Luigi Cazzato was born in Lecce (Italy); B.A. (University of Pisa, Italy), M.A (University of Leicester, England), Ph.D. (University of Bari, Italy). He is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro” (Italy) and AISCLI vice-chair.

Iain Michael Chambers
University of Naples, “Orientale”

Iain Chambers teaches Cultural and Postcolonial Studies of the Mediterranean at the University of Naples, ‘Orientale’. He is the author of several books including recently Mediterranean Crossings. The Politics of an Interrupted Modernity (2008), Mediterraneo blues. Musiche, melanconia postcolonial pensieri marittimi (2012) and Postcolonial Interruptions. Unauthorised Modernities (2017).

Sonya Clark
Amherst College

Sonya Clark uses materials such as human hair to address race, culture, and history. She is a Distinguished Visiting Artist-in-Residence at Amherst College. Prior, she chaired the Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University for twelve years. Her work has been exhibited in over 350 museums and galleries internationally.

Carmen Concilio
University of Turin

Carmen Concilio is Associate Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Turin. Her research fi elds include British Modernism, Postcolonial and Environmental Studies. She is President of the Italian Association of Postcolonial Studies and coordinator of the Aiscli Summer School.

Cecilio M. Cooper
Northwestern University

Cecilio M. Cooper is a PhD Candidate in African American Studies at Northwestern University, with a Graduate Certifi cate in Critical Theory. Using legal possession and spiritual possession as interlaced analytics, their dissertation examines how the constitution of territory during the Age of Discovery occasions black dispossession in the Atlantic World.

Lidia Curti
University of Naples, ‘Orientale’

Lidia Curti, honorary professor at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, is a cultural critic and a feminist. Among her books are Female stories, female bodies (1998), La voce dell’altra (2006), The postcolonial question (with I. Chambers, 1996). She is presently working on women’s diasporic writings in Italy and in the Mediterranean.

Lori De Lucia

Lori De Lucia is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at UCLA. Her research looks at early modern slave trades in the Mediterranean, with a focus on enslaved West Africans in Sicily. She has also taught the Hausa language and created multimedia language curriculum for Boston and Harvard University.

Guilia De Spuches
University of Palermo

Giulia de Spuches is Professor of Geography at the University of Palermo, Italy. Her research interests include the concept of diaspora in the Mediterranean Area (among others: “Diaspora”, in Mediterranean Lexicon; “La città cosmopolita. Altre narrazioni”) and she is currently completing a book on Cultural Geography and the LGBT movements.

Alessandra Di Maio
Associate Professor of English and Postcolonial Studies, University of Palermo

Alessandra Di Maio is Associate Professor of English and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Palermo, Italy. She divides her time between Italy and the U.S., where she taught at several universities after earning her Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research includes postcolonial, black, diasporic, migratory, gender studies and transnational cultural identities. She is currently working on a project on African Italian literature and the Black Mediterranean. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a UCLA Mellon postdoctoral fellowship, and a MacArthur Research and Writing Grant. Among her publications are Tutuola at the University, The Italian Voice of a Yoruba Ancestor (Bulzoni, 2000); An African Renaissance (Palermo Press, 2006); Wor(l)ds in Progress: A Study of Contemporary Migrant Writings (Mimesis, 2008); and Dedica a Wole Soyinka (Dedica Edizioni, 2012). She has translated into Italian several authors, among them Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, with whom she has conceived the poetry anthology Migrazioni/Migrations (2016).

Manthia Diawara
Institute of African American Affairs, New York University

Manthia Diawara is a Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University, Director of NYU’s Institute of Afro-American Affairs and Director of the Africana Studies Program. The Program in Africana Studies offers a multicontinental and interdisciplinary approach to the study of black culture, literature, and politics. A native of Mali, Diawara received his education in France and later traveled to the United States to attend university. He has taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of We Won’t Budge: An African Exile in the World (2003), Black-American Cinema: Aesthetics and Spectatorship (1993), African Cinema: Politics and Culture (1992), and In Search of Africa (1998). He has published widely on the topic of film and literature of the Black Diaspora. Professor Diawara also collaborated with Ngûgî wa Thiong’o in making the documentary Sembene Ousmane: The Making of the African Cinema and directed the German-produced documentary Rouch in Reverse.

Janine Gaelle Dieudji
Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden

Janine Dieudji is the Exhibitions Director of MACAAL. She has gained a broad range of experience in arts and culture over the years. She’s vice-president of Black History Month Florence. Cultural activist, she co-curated shows such as “Black Value” and Barthélémy Toguo’s show “Il Viaggio Immaginario”.

Henry John Drewal
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Henry John Drewal is the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. His published works include: Introspectives: Contemporary Art by Americans and Brazilians of African Descent; Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought; and Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe.

Veronica Fernandez
Rai News 24

Veronica Fernandez is a Multimedia Journalist.

Sylvie Fortin
Independent Curator and Scholar

Sylvie Fortin, an independent curator, critic, and editor based in Montréal and New York, was Executive/Artistic Director of La Biennale de Montréal (2013-2017) following her tenure as Editor-in-Chief of ART PAPERS (2004- 2012) and Curator of the 5th Québec City Biennial (2010). She is currently researching the currencies of hospitality.

Nouri Gana

Nouri Gana is Professor of Comparative Literature & Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is currently completing a book manuscript on the politics of melancholia in the Arab world and another on the history of cultural dissent in colonial and postcolonial Tunisia.

Lorgia Garcia Peña
Harvard University

Dr. Lorgia García-Peña is the Roy Clouse Associate Professor of Latinx Studies at Harvard University and the co-founder of Freedom University. She is engaged in a transnational interdisciplinary public humanities project with fi lmmaker Medhin Paolos. The project—Mind the Gap—proposes a new way to examine history from the personal stories of immigrant subjects in context.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Harvard University

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy Award-winning fi lmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored or co-authored twenty-one books and created fi fteen documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series now in its third season on PBS. His six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), which he wrote, executive produced, and hosted, earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program—Long Form, as well as the Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and NAACP Image Award. Having written for such leading publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Time, Professor Gates now serves as chairman of, a daily online magazine he co-founded in 2008, while overseeing the Oxford African American Studies Center, the fi rst comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field. He has also received grant funding to develop a Finding Your Roots curriculum to teach students science through genetics and genealogy. In 2012, The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, a collection of his writings edited by Abby Wolf, was published. His next film is the four-hour documentary series, And Still I Rise: Black America since MLK, airing on PBS in April 2016; a companion book, which he co-authored with Kevin M. Burke, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2015. The recipient of fi fty-fi ve honorary degrees and numerous prizes, Professor Gates was a member of the fi rst class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, and in 1998, he became the fi rst African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. He was named to Time’s 25 Most Infl uential Americans list in 1997, to Ebony’s Power 150 list in 2009, and to Ebony’s Power 100 list in 2010 and 2012. He earned his B.A. in English Language and Literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge in 1979. Professor Gates has directed the W. E. B. Institute for African and African American Research—now the Hutchins Center—since arriving at Harvard in 1991, and during his fi rst fi fteen years on campus, he chaired the Department of Afro-American Studies as it expanded into the Department of African and African American Studies with a full-fl edged doctoral program. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards, including the New York Public Library, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Aspen Institute, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and the Brookings Institution.

Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau’
University of Padua

Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau’ is a doctoral candidate in Social Sciences at Padua University. She graduated in Political Philosophy with a thesis on Marx’s perspectives on colonialism. Her current research, “Perché non te li porti a casa tua”, focuses on alternative refugees reception practices between anti-racist activism and humanitarian mobilization.

Paul Gilroy
King’s College London

Paul Gilroy teaches literature at King’s College London.

Vera Grant
Harvard University

Vera Ingrid Grant is the founding director of the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art at the Hutchins Center, Harvard University. Grant was executive director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University (2008-2012); and Associate Director of African and African American Studies, Stanford University (2001-2007).

Shelleen Greene

Dr. Shelleen Greene is an associate professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media at UCLA. Her research interests include Italian cinema, Black European studies, postcolonial studies, and digital feminist studies.

Guiseppe Grimaldi
University of Milano Bicocca

Giuseppe Grimaldi has a PhD in anthropology (University of Milano Bicocca). He works on the relation between mobility, space and cultural identity. In his doctoral dissertation he focused on the impact of long-term migrations between Italy and the Horn of Africa on Italians of Ethiopian and Eritrean origins patterns of identifi cation.

Ayasha Guerin
New York University

Ayasha Guerin is a PhD candidate in NYU’s American Studies. Her art and writing concern themes of public and private space, ecology, community, and security. Her dissertation “Making Zone A: Making Zone A: Nature, Race and Resilience on NYC’s Most Vulnerable Shores” is a socio-ecological study of resilience in NYC waterfront communities.

Ayesha Hameed
Goldsmiths University of London

Ayesha Hameed’s moving image, performance and written work explore contemporary borders and migration, and visual cultures of the Black Atlantic. She is currently the Programme Leader for the MA in Contemporary Art Theory in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London.

Moira Hille
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna / University of Toronto, OISE

PhD-in-Practice doctoral candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna; currently ’Marietta-Blau Stipendium’ Fellowship, School for Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto / OISE; since 2012 University Assistant and Lecturer, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies.

Robert Holmes
NYU Arts and Science

Robert E. Holmes earned a B.A. from Washington Square College in 1966 and a J.D. from NYU School of Law in 1969, prior to practicing law in the entertainment department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Music Group and President of its music publishing companies. Prior to his twenty-five years at Sony, Mr. Holmes was Vice President of the Arista Music Publishing Group and General Counsel of Motown Records and Film works. Mr. Holmes was a recipient of NYU’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1998 and Washington Square College’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1992. He is also the past President of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association and is an original co-founder of the Black American Law Students Association. Presently on the board of NYU’s Africa House, Mr. Holmes also served on the boards of the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the Liberace Foundation in Las Vegas.

Visual Artists

Simone Bertuzzi (b. 1983) and Simone Trabucchi (b. 1982) have been collaborating as Invernomuto since 2003. Throughout their work, oral cultures and minor histories are laid open, their vernacular forms examined. Bertuzzi and Trabucchi have developed individual lines of research into sound through the outlets Palm Wine and STILL, respectively.

Aikpitanyi Isoke
Associazione vittime ed ex vittime della tratta

I was born in Nigeria. My family was large and poor, that’s why could not complete the sweat. I tried to improve to quality of my family life going to work in Europe. I have been writing books and hosting victims of traffi cking. I’ve helped more than 300.

Shani Jamila

Shani Jamila is a Brooklyn based artist and cultural worker. Her travels to nearly fi fty countries deeply inform her photography and collage practice. She has exhibited, lectured and performed at institutions including Harvard, the Brooklyn Museum and TED. Shani regularly hosts live conversations about art, global engagement and social change.

Sarah K. Khan
New York University

Sarah K. Khan creates multimedia content on food culture, women, and migrants. She has researched among Bedouins in Palestine, Indian women farmers, immigrants in Queens NY, and cooks in Fez. Khan has degrees in Middle Eastern history (BA), public health (MPH), nutrition (MS), and plant sciences/traditional ecological knowledge systems (PhD).

Pap Khouma

Pap Khouma is a Senegalese writer Italian naturalized citizen. He arrived in Italy in 1984 and he lives in Milan where he works in the FNAC bookstore. He speaks three languages (Wolof, Italian and French). For twelwe years he moved around schools in Italy to give lectures on African culture and to teach in refresher courses for teachers on integration issues. He participated in numerous conferences on the theme of immigration culture and literature in Italy (Milan, Rome, Bologna) and United States (Africa/Italy: an interdisciplinary international symposium, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; immigration et intégration, Sénégal/Italy/France, Northwestern University of Chicago; Societa´ multiculturale, Queen´s College of New York; Letteratura degli immigrati in Italia, Casa italiana of New York University). He was curator and co-author of the book Nato in Senegal Immigrato in Italia (1994) and he published Io venditore di elefeanti (1990) dealing with his personal experience as peddler, Nonno Dio e gli spiriti danzanti e Noi italiani neri (2010). He is one of the founders and editor-in-chief of the literature journal El Ghibli (2003).

Fabio La Mantia
University of Enna “Kore”

Fabio La Mantia is a researcher in Comparative Literature and Literary Criticism at the Faculty of Classic, Linguistic and Education Studies at “Kore” University of Enna. Among his publications: Il golfo della transizione: Wole Soyinka riscrive le Baccanti di Euripide (CLUEB, Bologna 2004) and Leadership e Citizenship nei drammi storici di Ola Rotimi (CLUEB, Bologna 2008).

Kathryn Lachman
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kathryn Lachman is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst. Her publications include Borrowed Forms: The Music and Ethics of Transnational Fiction and Feasting on Words: Maryse Condé, Cannibalism and the Caribbean Text. From South Africa, she holds the Ph.D. from Princeton, and the M.A. and B.A. from Yale.

Françoise Lionnet
Harvard University

Professor of French, Comparative Literature, African and African American Studies , and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Harvard, Françoise Lionnet is the author, most recently, of Le su et l’incertain: Cosmopolitiques créoles de l’océan Indien, and editor of the forthcoming Selected Poetry and Prose of Evariste Parny.

Katherine Manthorne
Graduate Center, City University of NY

Katherine Manthorne is Professor of Art History, Graduate Center, City University of New York, with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She focuses on hemispheric dimensions of American art, especially landscape. This paper derives from her current book project Sweet Fortunes: Slavery, Sugar, & Art Patronage in the Americas.

Theophilus Marboah
University of Pavia

Theophilus Marboah is a second-generation Italian of Ghanaian origin. He is currently pursuing his medical degree at the University of Pavia. Beside his medical education, Theophilus has cultivated a profound interest in the global Black experiences, with a particular focus on contemporary African and Afro-diasporic art.

Patricia Mckelvin
New York University

A native New Yorker, graduate of LaGuardia High School of the Arts and Performing Arts, and former award winning signed recording artist, Patricia is a lover of all things artistic. Prior to joining New York University she held a range of management positions from corporate to not-for-profi t, and she worked for a family-owned realty and construction corporation that specialized in building and restoration projects in underserved communities throughout Harlem and the Bronx. Currently in the BA/MA Program at New York University, Patricia is pursuing a Masters in Human Resource Management. Her current interests lie in the psychology of the workplace and workplace dynamics.

Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she teaches. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and Lettre International, to name a few. She is a Fulbright Scholar who has also received fellowships from the Emily Harvey Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Prague Summer Program, and Yaddo. Her debut novel, the critically acclaimed Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, has been translated into several languages and appeared on several “Best of 2010” lists, including Publishers Weekly, Christian Science Monitor and Barnes and Noble. She was a runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, as well as a finalist for a Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, an NAACP Image Award, and an Indies Choice Book of the Year Award in Adult Debut. She currently lives in New York City. 

Salah Methnani
Writer, Reporter and Film Maker

Born in Tunisia in 1963. Graduated In 1987, in Foreign Languages and Literatures. Author of Immigrato, co-written with Mario Fortunato. In 2011, he covered “the Arab Springs” for Rainews24 reporting from Tunis, Cairo, Lybia and Syria. In 2012, Methnani was awarded the prestigious international prize for war correspondents “Maria Grazia Cutuli”

Salah Methnani
Writer, Reporter and Film Maker

Born in Tunisia in 1963. Graduated In 1987, in Foreign Languages and Literatures. Author of Immigrato, co-written with Mario Fortunato. In 2011, he covered “the Arab Springs” for Rainews24 reporting from Tunis, Cairo, Lybia and Syria. In 2012, Methnani was awarded the prestigious international prize for war correspondents “Maria Grazia Cutuli”

Virginia Monteforte
University of Malta

Virginia Monteforte is a social anthropologist and a photographer. Her work deals with social memory, politics, material culture, migration and literature in the Mediterranean. She is a parttime lecturer at the University of Malta and co-founder of Rima (, a project dealing with displacement and exile, created in Malta in 2014.

Simanique Moody
Leiden University

Dr. Simanique Moody is a lecturer of Linguistics and International Studies at Leiden University. Her research examines language contact, variation, and change in communities of African descent in North America and Europe. Her other scholarly interests include language, culture, and identity in the African diaspora.

Matthew Morrison
New York University

Matthew D. Morrison, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, is an Assistant Professor in the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Matthew is a 2018-2019 fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American research at Harvard University.

Ramatu Musa
Luzern University

Ramatu Musa is a Ph.D. Candidate at Universität Luzern in Switzerland. Her research focus is on the semiotic signifi cance of the Black body in global contexts. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Jerusalem, a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow in Oxford, and a Freelance Journalist in Sierra Leone, England, and Italy.

Pamela Newkirk
Professor of Journalism, Arthur Carter Journalism Institute, New York University

Pamela Newkirk is an award-winning journalist whose articles have been published in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, and The Guardian. Her latest book Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga won a 2016 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Award for Outstanding Literary Non-Fiction and was included on a number of 2015 best books lists, including those of National Public Radio, The Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is also the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media (NYU Press, 2000), which won the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism. Prior to joining the New York University Journalism Faculty she worked at four news organizations, including New York Newsday where she was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team. She holds an undergraduate journalism degree from New York University and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Columbia University.

Alexander Newman
San Francisco Art Institute

Alexander Newman is a photographer, writer and archivist, who has recently completed his BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. His work explores diasporic and queer identities through photographic portraiture.

Rachel Grace Newman
Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

Rachel Grace Newman received her PhD in Art History from Stanford University in 2016. She was recently awarded the 2018-2020 A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C..

Robert O’Meally
Columbia University

Robert G. O’Meally is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor at Columbia University. New books by the award-winning author of studies of Billie Holiday, Ralph Ellison, and Romare Bearden include The Romare Bearden Reader (edited for Duke, 2018) and Antagonistic Cooperation: Collage, Jazz, and American Fiction (Columbia, 2019).

Mauro Pala
University of Cagliari

Mauro Pala is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Cagliari (Italy). In 2010, as Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, he was Visiting Professor for the PhD Program in Literature at the University of Notre Dame (USA). He has published extensively on European Romanticism, Critical theory, Cultural studies and Postcolonial studies.

Agatha Palma

Agatha E. Palma is an artist, a PhD candidate in anthropology at UCLA, and a Fulbright scholar conducting research in Palermo, Sicily. Interested in the politics of urban space/racialized geography and its relationship with class struggle, she wrote her MA on street poetry and graffi ti art in post-revolutionary Tunisia.

Medhin Paolos
Harvard University

Medhin Paolos is a fi lmmaker (Asmarina), photographer, musician and social justice advocate fi ghting for the rights of immigrants and LGTQ people in Europe. She co-founded the Milano chapter of Rete G2, a national organization promoting the rights of descendants of immigrants in Italy who are denied citizenship under Italian bloodline citizenship legislation. She is working on a digital archive project recovering and preserving stories of immigrants and their descendants.

Angelica Pesarini
NYU Florence

Angelica Pesarini was awarded a Ph.D. in Sociology in 2015 from the Center for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds. At NYU Florence Professor Perarini teaches Black Italia, a course entirely dedicated to the intersectional analysis of racial identity in Italy. She previously worked at Lancaster University as a Lecturer in Gender, Race and Sexuality. Her current work investigates dynamics of race performativity with a focus on colonial and postcolonial Italy and she also works on the racialization of the Italian political discourse on immigration. Pesarini has previously conducted research on gender roles and the development of economic activities within some Roma communities in Italy and she has analyzed strategies of survival, risks and opportunities associated with male prostitution in Rome. She has been published in a number of journals and edited volumes. She is currently writing a monograph of her first book. 

Enrica Picarelli
Independent Researcher

Enrica Picarelli is an Independent Researcher and blogger. She holds a Ph.D. In Cultural and Postcolonial Studies of the Anglophone World at University of Naples, “L’Orientale” (Italy) and has been “Michael Ballhaus fellow” at Leuphana University. In 2015 she launched the blog Afrosartorialism, focusing on African design and fashion and digital aesthetics.

Omari Ra
Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts

Born in Kingston Jamaica. Education, Edna Manley college, UMass Dartmouth U.S.A., University West Indies Jamaica. Exhibit widely, and published A Brief History of Western Art: The Caribbean Frontier.

Timothy Raeymaekers
University of Zurich

Timothy Raeymaekers, permanent research fellow and lecturer at the Geography Institute of the University of Zürich, holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Ghent. Timothy’s main research involves the relationship between displacement, boundaries, and political violence. His regional focus lays on Central Africa and the Mediterranean.

Heike Raphael-Hernandez
University of Würzburg, Germany

Heike Raphael-Hernandez: Professor of American Studies at the University of Würzburg, Germany. Her recent publications are Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture (with Leigh Raiford, 2017) and a special issue (with Pia Wiegmink) for the journal Atlantic Studies about “German Entanglements in Transatlantic Slavery” 14.4. (2017).

Angelita Reyes
Arizona State University

Dr. Angelita Reyes is a Professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. A cultural studies scholar, she teaches about and continues to study and explore new intersectional and comparative dynamics of the African Diaspora. Her forthcoming book is entitled, Watersheds and Memory-telling at the Home Place.

Luis Rincon Alba
New York University

Luis Rincón Alba is a Colombian artist and scholar living in NYC. He is a doctoral candidate in the Performance Studies Department at NYU. His interests focus on the political and epistemological elements present in festivities, paying close attention to the cultural and artistic products from the Caribbean that are related to Carnival.

Lorenzo Rinelli
Temple University

Faculty of Political Science for the Temple University in Rome, Lorenzo Rinelli’s academic interests include urban border studies, migration theory, postcolonial theory and aesthetics in world politics. His monograph entitled African Migrants and Europe: Managing the Ultimate Frontier has been published in 2016 by Routledge for the African Politics and International Relation Series.

Jordan Rogers
University of Miami

Jordan Rogers is a doctoral candidate in Literary, Cultural, and Linguistic Studies at the University of Miami. He previously attended Yale University, double-majoring in African-American Studies and French Literature. Rogers researches black diasporic literature; his interests include black queer/feminist theory, media studies, and (auto-)ethnography across the Afro-romance language traditions.

Eileen Ryan
Temple University

I am an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Temple University. My first book, Religion as Resistance (OUP 2018) examined Catholic and Muslim identities in Italian Libya. My new book project examines the history of blackness in modern Italy.

Adama Sanneh
Moleskine Foundation

Adama graduated in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation from the University of Milan, he worked for several years in East Africa on rural development and humanitarian emergency programs. He obtained a Master in Public Management (MPM) from the Bocconi School of Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Geneva. After graduating, he worked as a management and strategy consultant for various public and not-for-profit organizations among which the United Nations, in education, social entrepreneurship and innovation. As Co-Founder and COO of the Moleskine Foundation, he is committed to promoting and advocating a more profound understanding of the African continent, focusing on the role that art and culture can play in social change.


Igiaba Scego
Author of La mia casa è dove sono (2010)

Igiaba Scego is an Italian novelist and journalist. She was born in Rome in 1974 to Somali parents who had emigrated to Italy following Siad Barre’s 1969 coup d’état. Scego’s father had been a well-known politician in Somalia and had held posts such as ambassador and foreign minister. Scego started her literary career in 2003 with a bilingual children’s book called La nomade che amava Alfred Hitchcock - Ari raacato jecleeyd Alfred Hitchcock [The Nomad who Loved Alfred Hitchcock], which is inspired by the story of her mother’s migration to Italy. In 2004, Scego published her first novel, Rhoda, which was awarded the Eks&Tra literary prize dedicated to migrant writers and their descendants. In 2005, Scego edited the anthology Italiani per vocazione [Italians by Vocation] with stories by Jorge Canifa Alves, Sabbatino Annecchiarico, Kossi Komla-Ebri, Ingy Mumbiayi Kakese, Ubax Cristina Ali Farah, Younis Wakkas, Jadelin Mabiala Gangbo and Barbara Serdakowski among others. Scego became well known after the publication of two short stories, ‘Salsicce’[‘Sausages’] (2003 Eks&Tra prize) and ‘Dismatria’, published in Pecore nere [Black Sheep], an anthology edited by Flavia Capitani and Emanuele Coen (2005) that focuses on the experiences of ‘second-generation migrants’ in Italy. Since 2005, she has edited a series of radio programmes and authored columns in some of Italy’s prominent newspapers and magazines (Repubblica, l’Unità, Internazionale), as well as online magazines specialising in migration (Carta, Corriere immigrazione, Migra,Nigrizia, El-ghibli: Rivista di letteratura della migrazione). In 2007, along with Ingy Mubiayi, she edited a collection of interviews, Quando nasci è una roulette: Giovani figli di migranti si raccontano [When You’re Born It’s a Crapshoot: Young Children of Migrants Tell their Stories], a collection of stories by seven young Italians of African origin. After graduating in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures at the First University of Rome (La Sapienza), Igiaba Scego completed her Ph.D. in pedagogy in 2008 at the Third University of Rome, with a thesis on the writing of Erminia dell’Oro, Cristina Ali Farah and Gabriella Ghermandi. Scego’s Oltre Babilonia [Beyond Babylon] was published in 2008. In 2010, Scego published a memoir, called La mia casa è dove sono [My Home is Where I Am], which was awarded the Mondello prize and adapted into a school text book in 2012. Igiaba Scego also appeared in the Italian film ‘La pecora nera’ by Ascanio Celestini (2010). In 2013, she started a petition to destroy a monument in honour of the Italian war criminal Rodolfo Graziani, which was built near Rome, in Affile. The main themes of Igiaba Scego’s work are the double identity of Italians of African origins, the denunciation of Italy’s colonial past and its sexist and racist legacy in the present.

Gunja SenGupta
Brooklyn College

Gunja SenGupta is a professor of US history at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas (1996), and From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York (2009; paperback 2010). Her articles have also appeared in journals like the American Historical Review, the Journal of Negro (now African American) History, Civil War History, Kansas History and Nka: A Journal of Contemporary African Art. She is currently co-authoring a book (with Awam Amkpa, and funded by grants from the Whiting, Wolfe, Tow, and Mellon foundtions) on comparative histories of slavery and abolition in the nineteenth-century Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, as well as a project on Black Atlantic history on film.

Ella Habiba Shohat
New York University

Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University and is also affiliated faculty with NYU Abu Dhabi. Since the 1980s, she has lectured and written extensively on issues having to do with Eurocentrism, exoticism, orientalism, as well as postcolonialism, transnationalism, and diasporic cultures. Her books include: Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (Duke Univ. Press, 2006); Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (MIT & The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998); Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (University of Texas Press, 1989; Updated Edition with a new postscript chapter, I.B. Tauris, 2010); Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Perspectives (co-edited, University of Minnesota Press, 1997); and with Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism (Routledge, 1994), winner of the (Katherine Kovacs Singer Best Book Award); Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality and Transnational Media (Rutgers University Press, 2003); Flagging Patriotism: Crises of Narcissism and Anti-Americanism (Routledge, 2007); and Race in Translation: Culture Wars Around the Postcolonial Atlantic (NYU Press, 2012). Shohat’s co-edited (with Evelyn Alsultany) book Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora is just out from the University of Michigan Press. Her writing has been translated into several languages, including: French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Hebrew, Turkish, and Arabic. Shohat has also served on the editorial board of several journals, including: Social Text; Critique; Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism; Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication; and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. She is a recipient of fellowships such as the Rockefeller fellowship at Bellagio and the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, where she also taught at The School of Criticism and Theory. She was awarded a Fulbright research / lectureship at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, for studying the cultural intersections between the Middle East/North Africa and Latin America. Recently, together with Sinan Antoon, she was awarded the NYU Humanities Initiative fellowship, entitled “Narrating Iraq: Between Nation and Diaspora.”

Bhakti Shringarpure
University of Connecticut

Bhakti Shringarpure is Assistant Professor of English at University of Connecticut (Storrs) and editor-in-chief of Warscapes magazine. Her recent publications include the edited anthologies Literary Sudans: An Anthology of Literature from Sudan and South Sudan (Africa World Press) and Imagine Africa: Volume 3 (Archipelago Press).

Debora Spini
Lecturer, New York University Florence

Debora Spini teaches Social Foundations at New York University Florence, Political Theory at Syracuse University in Florence, and is adjunct professor in Social Philosophy at the Cesare Alfieri School of Political Science at the University of Florence. She is author of monographs, such as La società civile post nazionale (Meltemi, Roma, 2006), and co-editor of several collective books, including Art and Practices of Citizenship, La coscienza protestante, (Claudiana, 2015), Civil Society and Global Governance, (Routledge, Garnet Book Series, 2010). She has published various essays and chapters in collective books, including the most recent Protestantesimo e Sfera pubblica in Forum sul Suffragismo (in Storia e politica, 2017, n. 2, pp 535-546), La secolarizzazione e i suoi “post”. Democrazie e Sacro condiviso in Il Senso della Repubblica nel XXI secolo (, 2016) and Religione e felicità, in Felicità italiane. Un campionario filosofico (Mimesis 2016). Spini has held lectures in italy and abroad, most recently at Bangalore University and at University of Madras Chennai in India.

Robert Stam
New York University

Robert Stam is University Professor at NYU. The author of some seventeen books on film, cultural theory, and comparative race and postcolonial studies, among them Unthinking Eurocentrism (with Ella Shohat) and Tropical Multiculturalism. With work translated into 15 languages, he has taught in Tunisia, Brazil, France, Germany, and Abu Dhabi.

Anna Tedesco
University of Palermo

Anna Tedesco (Ph.D. University of Bologna, Italy, 1998) is Associate Professor at the University of Palermo, Italy, where she teaches History of Opera. She also teaches and supervises doctoral theses for the Ph.D. program at University “Sapienza” (Rome). In 2009, she was a Visiting Professor at the Universidad Complutense (Madrid).

Justin Randolph Thompson
NYU Florence

Justin Randolph Thompson is a sculptor and new media artist born in Peekskill, NY in ’79. Living between Italy and the US since 2001, he has exhibited internationally and participated in numerous residencies in the US and in Europe. His work explores the historic implications of triumph, victory and ascension by re-contextualizing references from Roman antiquity and mending these with aspects of African-American culture both past and present. Exploring cultural displacement and imposed hierarchies his work encompasses sculptural installation, performance, video and sound. Engaging a broad range of collaborators from diverse walks of life Thompson creates projects that engage the community as a temporary monument pushing the borders of sound and labor as a gesture of resistance. Reflecting upon a socially constructed communal legacy, he examines expectations and shortcomings through the absence of concrete linear cultural foundations. Thompson’s accolades include a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, a Grant from the Fundacion Botin, A Franklin Furnace Fund Award with his work exhibited and performed in spaces ranging from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Villa Romana and the Reina Sofia to the streets of NYC, Florence and Baltimore.

Ellyn Toscano
Executive Director, New York University Florence and Founder and Director, La Pietra Dialogues

Ellyn Toscano is Executive Director of New York University Florence, a campus of New York University that hosts nearly 1000 students a year. She directs NYU’s Villa La Pietra, a 15th century villa and collection of six thousand objects dating from the Etruscans to the 20th century. She founded and directs La Pietra Dialogues, a year-long series of conferences, exhibitions and talks, and founded and produces The Season, a summer cultural festival that assembles artists, writers, musicians and public intellectuals to produce new work or reinterpretations of classics in the Villa’s expansive Renaissance revival gardens. Before arriving at New York University Florence, Ms. Toscano served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman Jose Serrano of New York for two decades, was his chief policy advisor on legislative, political and media concerns and directed his work on the Appropriations Committee. Ms. Toscano also served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for nine years. She has served on the boards of several prominent arts and cultural institutions including the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (as the representative of the Brooklyn Borough President). She currently serves on the Honorary Board of the Museo Marino Marini in Florence, the Advisory Board of the John Brademas Center, New York, the Italian Advisory Council of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Italy, and the Board of Directors of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. A lawyer by training, Ms. Toscano earned an LLM in International Law from New York University School of Law.

Ada Ugo Abara

Ada Ugo Abara is a second generation (Afro-Italian) activist.

Imani Uzuri
Independent Artist and Scholar

Imani Uzuri is an award-winning vocalist, composer and conceptual artist. Raised in rural North Carolina, she creates interdisciplinary works and compositions. She recently received her M.A. in African American Studies from Columbia University. Uzuri is currently composing a forthcoming contemporary chamber orchestral work celebrating the iconography of the Black Madonna.

Carlton Wilkinson
Wilkinson Arts

Carlton Wilkinson is an art photographer, educator, art collector and curator. In 1994, he received the Tennessee Artist Fellowship, which is the state’s highest honor for an artist. Wilkinson photography is represented internationally. He has taught college-level photography for over 30 years. Wilkinson is broker/curator for his business, Wilkinson Arts.

Deborah Willis
Professor and Chair, Department of Photography & Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Deborah Willis teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of slavery and emancipation; contemporary women photographers and beauty. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Fletcher, and MacArthur fellowships, the Infinity Award in Writing from the International Center for Photography, and recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award. She is one of the nation´s leading historians of African American photography and curators of African American culture. Her books include Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery (with Barbara Krauthamer) and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among many others. She also holds affiliated appointment in NYU’s Africana Studies Program and Department of Social & Cultural Analysis. And she was recently appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum.

Dagmawi Yimer
Archives of Migrants Memory (AMM)

Born and grew up in Addis Abeba- Ethiopia, he has lived in Italy since 2006. In 2007, he co-authored the film Il deserto e il mare along with 5 other migrants. Subsequently he was co-director for the 2008 documentary film Come un uomo sulla terra. Asmat- names and UC San Diego lectureship in 2015.

Paulette Young
Cultural Anthropologist, Independent Scholar

Paulette Young is a Cultural Anthropologist, Historian and Curator who works in NYC. She is a consultant and advisor in the visual and performing arts for a diverse range of cultural and educational institutions. Paulette is Director of the Young Robertson Gallery of African Diasporia fine art, textiles and photography.

Mahnaz Yousefzadeh
New York University

Mahnaz Yousefzadeh is professor of Global Liberal Studies at New York University. She recently published Rivista degli Studi Orientali (2018), and “Subhat al-Akhbar,” I Tatti Studies (Spring 2018) situating the Mediterranean in a global network. She teaches a seminar on the Mediterranean in NYC and Abu Dhabi.

Belinda Zhawi

BELINDA ZHAWI is a Zimbabwean-born poet living in London. She co-founded and hosts the bi-monthly literary social, BORN::FREE LDN and was the Institute of Contemporary Arts’ Associate Poet from Autumn 2016/2017. Belinda’s currently working on her debut chapbook, forthcoming in 2018 with ignitionpress.

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