Ian Lekus - “Fear of a Queer Planet: Activism, Culture Wars, and LGBT Human Rights”

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Ian Lekus is an LGBT Thematic Specialist for Amnesty International USA and a Lecturer in Cornell University’s Washington, D.C. Program, where he is teaching a seminar on social justice in our nation’s capital. He has previously taught U.S. and world history, sexuality and gender studies, HIV/AIDS, and other topics at Harvard, Duke, Tufts, and the Universities of Georgia and Maryland. He is currently completing his first book, Queer and Present Dangers: Sexuality, Masculinity, and the Sixties, under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press. Both his advocacy and his scholarship address the intersections between grassroots social movements, political and cultural change, and sexuality and gender.

"Over the past few years, human rights violations against sexual and gender minorities have drawn unprecedented global attention, seemingly pitting the West against Russia and the Global South. But why now? How does this easy, comfortable narrative obscure an intricate tapestry of sexuality and gender; race, religion and culture; grassroots organizing; and globalization and reaction? How does the ongoing, genuine queer human rights crisis across the globe reinforce Western preconceptions about hopelessly corrupt African leaders and failed African governance, intractably authoritarian Russian political culture, and endemic misogyny and fanaticism in the Middle East? How are LGBT human rights fundamentally intertwined with other critical issues in democratic civil society? In “Fear of a Queer Planet,” I address these questions, explore how LGBT people and their allies have staked claims to inclusion in the international human rights system, and demonstrate the urgent need for a usable history to combat global homophobia and transphobia." --Ian Lekus

Rhodes College Amnesty International

'Ain't Nuthin' But a She-Thing': Women, Hip Hop, and The Making of Tradition

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Cheryl L. Keyes is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Chair of FAC for the Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her areas of specialty include African American music, gender, and popular music studies.  Professor Keyes has conducted extensive fieldwork on rap music and hip-hop culture all over the world, and her research has been published in major journals such as Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology, Folklore Forum, Journal of American Folklore, Journal of Popular Music Studies, The World of Music, and has appeared as book chapters, reference articles, and as reviews. Dr. Keyes is the author of _Rap Music and Street Consciousness_ (2004), which received a CHOICE award for outstanding academic books and was the first musicological history of rap music.

Music Africana Studies


The Rhodes library offers access to many electronic collections that are helpful for students researching topics in African-American Studies. For a complete list of resources, visit the library site.

Collections, Journals and Research Materials

African.Americana is a new blog dedicated to highlighting African American library collections, history, culture, arts and ideas.

Lecture by Dr. Paul Taylor: "What We Wanted: Recovering From the Obama Era"

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Dr. Paul Taylor, associate professor of philosophy and chair of African American Studies at Penn State University will present "What We Wanted: Recovering From the Obama Era." Free and open to the public, the lecture begins at 7 p.m.

When Barack Hussein Obama became the President of the United States, observers around the world and across the political spectrum decided that a new age was dawning. His critics lamented this historical shift, while his supporters applauded it. But everyone seemed to agree: the 2008 election showed that the world had changed, and changed in ways that required new vocabularies, sensibilities, and practices.

However, the idea of a world-historical "Obama moment" no longer resonates in the way it once did. The most obvious of these questions have to do with race, according to Taylor. Does Mr. Obama's ascension mean that the U.S. has become post-racial? If so, how can the idea of post-racialism survive the killings of Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride (and others)? Does his complicated embrace of blackness mean that "ost-black is the new black."

"What We Wanted" will explore Mr. Obama's meanings for U.S. racial politics. This will not mean evaluating his effectiveness as a politician or statesman, or measuring the gap between his campaign promises and his administration's policies. It will mean taking seriously the thought that racial history has somehow been interrupted, and considering the warrant for this thought in light of what we know about race.

Taylor also is a 2014-15 Edmond J. Safra Network Fellow at Harvard University. He has provided commentary on race and politics for newspapers and radio shows on four continents and has lectured at universities from Cape Town to Cornell. He is the author of Race: A Philosophical Introduction, and is currently working on a book titled Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics.

Africana Studies Philosophy

An Evening of Parisian Jazz

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Rhodes will present an Evening of Parisian Jazz including a lecture by Making Jazz French author Jeffrey H. Jackson and music performed by local band Le Tumulte Noir. Free and open to the public, the event begins at 6 p.m. in Hardie Auditorium of Palmer Hall on campus. French themed hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Jackson, who is the J.J. McComb Professor in the Rhodes Department of History, will discuss "How Parisians Made Jazz Their Own." Jackson also is author of Paris Under Water and Music and History: Bridging the Disciplines. "When jazz arrived in Paris, it shocked audiences, but over time, it became an important part of the city's entertainment scene," says Jackson. "I think this lecture/concert will reveal both the sense of surprise listeners felt and also show why jazz is now still so popular in France today."

The band will play music based upon what might have been heard in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s by French musicians Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and their famous Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Says John Bass, a member of Le Tumulte Noir and director of Rhodes Mike Curb Institute for Music, "It is fascinating to see what happens when jazz lands in Europe and becomes what is sometimes referred to as 'hot jazz.' You can feel the passion those musicians had for this new style of music in the energy of those great recordings."

The event is co-sponsored by the Alliance Francaise de Memphis and Rhodes' Mike Curb Institute of Music, Department of Music, Department of History, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and Africana Studies.

Lecture by Gaye Johnson: "SONIC SPACES: Music, Culture & the Art of Social Change"

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On Sept. 17, Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, author of Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity, will present "SONIC SPACES: Music, Culture & the Art of Social Change." Free and open to the public, the event begins at 7 p.m. in Blount Auditorium of Buckman Hall.

Johnson is associate professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she writes and teaches on race and racism, cultural history, geographies of freedom, and political economy. Information about her first book can be found at http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520275287

Sept. 18, she will join Dr. Regina Bradley, a researcher of African American culture, for a conversation about "SONIC SPACES: Music, Culture & the Art of Social Change." Free and open to the public, the event begins at 7 p.m. in Hardie Auditorium of Palmer Hall.

Bradley writes about post-Civil Rights African American literature, the contemporary U.S. South, pop culture, race and sound, and hip-hop. She is the founder of Outkasted Conversations, a dialogue series that explores the impact of hip-hop duo Outkast on popular culture.

The events are sponsored by Rhodes' Africana Studies Program, CODA, Department of Music, Latin American Studies, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle

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Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle September 4, 7PM, Blount Auditorium, Rhodes College Created Equal is a special project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which encourages communities to revisit the history of civil rights in America and to reflect on the ideals of freedom and equality that have helped bridge deep racial and cultural divides. Created Equal uses the power of documentary films to spark public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. Four outstanding documentary films, spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1960s, are the centerpiece for this project. Join us for a panel discussion featuring selections from the documentary movie The Abolitionists a film that brings to life the struggles of the men and women who led the battle to end slavery. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Rychetta Watkins, Program Development Consultant for the City of Memphis and Common Ground. Other panelists include Dr. Shelby Crosby, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Memphis, and Dr. Charles McKinney, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Program at Rhodes College. This event is free, open to the public and will be held on Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 7pm, Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall, Rhodes College.


Africana Studies History