Enthusiastically inviting participants for a roundtable on global Black studies for the Modern Language Association’s 2020 convention in Seattle, Washington, USA, 9-12 January.
For this non-guaranteed session, the organizers seek short provocations in response to the following prompt:How does the prefix “global” alter, expand, or complicate notions and practices of Black studies? Conversely, how does Black study of the world enhance understandings of the global?This proposed session grows from the organizers’ previous sessions for the Modern Language Association and the South Asian Literary Association on Afro-Asian studies and Indian Ocean studies respectively. We expect this forthcoming session (still to be approved by the MLA’s program committee) to contribute to the emerging field of global Black studies through, among other ways, putting Indian Ocean studies in relation to Atlantic Ocean studies—or, more sharply, the Black Atlantic in relation to the “Black Indian.” In this regard, we think not only of the global contours of European imperial projects (both present and past), the multiple relationships between slavery and indenture, and the traffic in bodies in and around the African continent, but also figurations of Blackness and carcerality, such as the South Asian notion of the kala pani, which denotes both the “black waters” of the ocean, on which enforced migration was understood as a loss of caste status, and the colonial British prison facility (the Kala Pani) on the Andaman Islands (also known as the Cellular Jail). Finally, given our awareness that the concept of a global Black studies also invites critique, we warmly welcome challenges to this premise that underscore the immense heterogeneity of Black peoples, experiences, expressive cultures, and theories across time and place.
***The organizers are committed to prioritizing the inclusion of Black, African, African American, and African diasporic scholars in this roundtable, as well as scholars working in areas historically underrepresented.***