ReSignifications: The Black Mediterranean
date: June 6, 2018
location: Museo delle Marionette, Palermo

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, NYU Florence: La Pietra Dialogues, the NYU Institute of African American Affairs, Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research and the University of Palermo are pleased to present ReSignifications: The Black Mediterranean. This conference, held in Palermo, joins a series of international conversations, including Black Portraitures, breaking new ground in the fi elds of African and African Diasporic art, literature, cultural theory, history, and political practice. Scholars, writers, artists, and cultural activists from around the world gather in the heart of the Mediterranean to reason together about issues of representation, migration, diaspora, slave-trade, border, mobility, citizenship, and human rights. Discussions from a variety of approaches address the historically and contemporary ways in which black voices have been silenced and black bodies have been ambiguously imagined in Western-dominated global culture. We will investigate why these questions are relevant to what is happening today in the Mediterranean, a crucial site of the African diaspora since the classic era.

Sicily lies at the center of the Mediterranean, where Africa and Europe encounter. Historically considered part of either one of the two continents, depending on the domination of the moment, the island has always functioned as a bridge. Its capital city Palermo, world-renowned for its diverse artistic and cultural heritage, is today one of the major ports of refuge for the countless migrants who arrive in Europe in flocks from the African shores. Designated Italy’s 2018 Capital City of Culture, on June 6-9 Palermo will become a resonant chamber of the million visual, oral, written, performed stories of the African diaspora.

At the backdrop to the conference are the exhibitions ReSignifications: European Blackamoors, Africana Readings and Wole Soyinka: Antiquities Across Times and Place. Collateral events of the MANIFESTA European Biennial of Contemporary Art, the exhibits will display the works of an array of international artists and the African art collection of Nigerian Nobel Prize for Literature Wole Soyinka.