Afterlife in the African Diaspora: A Seminar/Workshop

 (Abstracts 5/15/15;papers 10/1/15;conf 11/13-15/15)

South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference

contact email: AND

This seminar/workshop seeks to spark a critical conversation about how historical subjects and historical texts within the African Diaspora get re-fashioned, re-animated, and re-articulated, as well as parodied, nostalgized, and defamiliarized, to establish an afterlife for African Atlantic identities and narratives. Participants will consider how—as transnational and transhistorical sites of memory—particular performances (textual, visual, or embodied) circulate and imagine anew the meaning of prior personal and textual narratives liberated from their originary context. As part of the dialogue of this seminar/workshop, participants will examine how such historical performances, thus revitalized, transcend and speak across temporal and spatial boundaries not only to reinstate traditional meanings, but also to motivate fresh commentary and critique. The organizers hope that this conversation might lead to a collection of essays focused on this important and underexplored area of inquiry.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • specific historical figures, artists, or performers (e.g., Trayvon Martin, Bill Cosby, etc.) and their re-inscription and/or appropriation in twentieth- and twenty-first century cultural productions
  • “raising the dead” in the African Diaspora
  • invoking spectres and the spectral
  • traumatic repetition and/as afterlife
  • literary and/or cinematic depictions of slavery and its afterlife
  • legacies of lynching and racial terror
  • racialized horror and/or hauntings
  • monstrosities and/as racialized afterlife
  • sexual/gender transitioning and/as afterlife
  • reproduction and the afterlife
  • posthumanism and/as concepts of the afterlife
  • holographic and other posthumous forms of performativity/representation in new media

Please email a 300-word abstract and brief bio to Mae G. Henderson ( and Gene Melton ( by May 15, 2015 (using the subject line “SAMLA Afterlife Seminar”). Those selected to participate in the seminar/workshop will be expected to submit an electronic copy of their completed paper (approx. 1500 words) no later than October 1, 2015 so that essays can be distributed to all participants for reading prior to the conference. The conference will take place November 13-15, 2015, in Durham, NC.

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