By Bridget Johnston || News Editor
On September 1, the Africana Studies Program debuted their “Africana Worldwide 2016-2017” series. This program brings a wide variety of speakers to Franklin and Marshall’s campus in the form of lectures, films, exhibits, and student lead panel discussions.
According to Professor Eiman Zein-Elabdin, the current Chair of the Africana Studies Program, “The core of [the series] is to show the wide range of topics and disciplines that Africana Studies covers… and to contribute to the intellectual life in the college.”
Because Africana Studies is an interdisciplinary program, this series is able to feature pieces co-sponsored with numerous departments and campus organizations, such as the Film, Italian, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, International Studies, and Sociology. It has also received support from the Shadek-Fackenthal Library, the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs, the Alice Drum Women’s Center, and the Faculty Center.
This program began development in May of 2016, when Africana Studies decided to expand their list of visiting speakers and develop a year-long lineup. This was made possible by a Convergence Grant from the Provost’s Office. This lead to an ongoing collaboration between Africana Studies and many other academic departments on campus in order to create as diverse of a program as possible. Professor Nadra Hebouche, a member of the Africana Studies Committee, came up with the title Africa Worldwide.
Students were also involved in the developmental process. One student for instance was interested in bringing Katie Mayler, the founder of the More Than Me nonprofit, to campus as a common hour speaker, so they approached the Program and the faculty members were able to incorporate their interests into the lineup of the series.
Zein-Elabdin found that because “the range of topics included was so broad, there really weren’t many limits.” The series hosts events with world-recognized speakers highlighting the contributions of both African Americans and Africans. They also feature the interactions between cultures, the experience of being gay in an Arab Muslim society, and Islam in America.
In addition to bringing speakers to campus, the Africana Studies Program has been in contact with several student organizations, including the Black Student Union, The african and Caribbean Students Association, and IMPACT. These clubs along with others have been asked to propose different topics for focused student lead panel discussions, in which the student organizations would host a conversation with the FandM community featuring relevant topics that integrate with the larger series. The subjects and dates regarding the student lead panel discussions have yet to be formalized.
Shadek-Fackenthal Library is currently hosting a display entitled: Subversive Voices of North African Women Writers: In Memory of Assia Djebar and Fatima Mernissi. This book exhibit will continue until October 31st and pays tribute to two distinguished North African writers.
The next upcoming event is co-sponsored by several departments and organizations, including the John Marshall Pre-law Honor Society and the Muslim Students Association, featuring Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An- Na`im from Emory University. Taking place in Stahr Auditorium, he will be presenting Islam and Secularism: What is an American Muslim?
Zein-Elabdin encourages all students to make the most of the series by attending the events, but also by “contributing to the dialogue about issues of inequality and social justice, both in the United States and in Africa.”
Junior Bridget Johnston is the News Editor. Her email is email@example.com.