Workshop: Epistemologies of Contact Zones in Africa

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World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2017.
World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2017.
Talks
Oct 15, 2017 - 12 noon – 5 pm
Main Level, East Gallery

World on the Horizon: Epistemologies of Contact Zones in Africa will be held in conjunction with the annual conference of the African Studies Association.

In advance of the 60th ASA Annual Meeting in Chicago, and in tandem with the exhibition World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts across the Indian Ocean at Krannert Art Museum, this workshop will bring together scholars of various disciplines to engage in a dialogue on materiality and epistemologies in contact zones such as the Swahili coast.

Introduced by Mary Louise Pratt in 1991, the concept of contact zones are characterized as places where cultures meet and forms of knowledge and power converge. Through topic-driven gallery walk-throughs and guided discussions, attendees will engage with the myriad objects in the exhibition and discuss the relationships between knowledge formation and materiality through topics such as relational aesthetics, itinerancy, regimes of value, performance, and hybridity. More broadly, we will consider in what ways exhibitions—as multimedia, object-driven platforms—embody alternative ways of knowing that contribute to and advance the critical capacities of more conventional, text-based modes of research and scholarship.

This pre-conference workshop will be held at Krannert Art Museum on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and features a major new exhibit of Swahili artworks on loan from public and private collections on four continents, displaying the global reach of Swahili material culture. This is an opportunity to see and discuss the exhibit while it is in the Midwest; in 2018 it will travel to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and to the Fowler Museum at UCLA. The workshop will include introductory lectures, a detailed gallery tour and group discussions. Pre-registration through the African Studies Association is required to attend.

Co-organized by Teresa Barnes, professor of History; James Brennan, professor of History; Jenny Peruski, doctoral student in Art HIstory; and Allyson Purpura, senior curator and curator of Global African Arts at Krannert Art Museum. Sponsored in part by the African Studies Association and Krannert Art Museum.