Sunday, November 22, 2015

Princeton Faculty Letter in Support of Student Protests

November 20, 2015

Dear President Eisgruber, Dean Dolan, Senior Administrators, and Members of the Board of Trustees:

As Princeton faculty, we write in support of our students who have occupied the President’s office and those supporting them across campus. These are difficult times. And there is a palpable sense that, even as we struggle together to make Princeton a better institution, students of color, particularly black students, all too often find themselves on the margins of this University.  They do not feel a sense of possession of “Old Nassau.” So, they are voicing their frustration and have presented demands to the leadership of our community.

They have done so with passion and intelligence and we support them. We urge you and the broader Princeton community to take this opportunity to reflect seriously on their demands.  Imagine how difficult it must be, for some, to have to live and learn in a place that celebrates people who believed passionately in white supremacy; to experience daily a sense of alienation and have no place to which to retreat and find comfort. Imagine the exhausting task of having to constantly educate your fellow classmates about the particulars of your experience and the complex histories that shape them. And, finally, imagine being told, in effect, “be quiet” and endure. Such experiences suggest that Princeton is not truly their University–that they are just passing through.

Our students are no longer quiet. They have forced all of us to confront the urgency of the moment. Princeton’s deliberate pace at reform often presupposes the sacrifice of those who must endure until we actually change. It’s a costly wager. These students refuse to wait. They have forced the conversation and now we must act. We stand with them as they struggle with the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and its impact on this campus. We stand with them as they work to make Princeton a more inclusive community. And we stand with them as they seek an education that is consonant with the vast diversity of our nation and this world.

As faculty, we recall the long history on this campus of previous student actions, administrative responses, faculty votes, and the vast array of University task forces and committees charged with addressing elements of the core problems that remain before us today. This history and the reality of our current moment suggests to us the need for a different, bolder, more comprehensive kind of action on the part of University leaders. In addition, we call for a meeting of the faculty dedicated to the issue of faculty diversity. Like our students, we note with dismay the alarming paucity of faculty of color in our senior ranks. In order to create the kind of just, inclusive, and welcoming University community students are insisting upon, we desperately need a faculty that more closely reflects not only the demographic profile of the nation but of the undergraduate student body itself.

Substantive change isn’t always neat and civil. Democratic debate is often messy and full of passion. But it requires that we hear each other, that we respect the right of others to protest. Threats of disciplinary action send a terrible signal to our students about your commitment to them and to making Princeton a better place.

We believe we have an opportunity to model something for the nation as we stand with our students. We urge you to seize this opportunity. We urge you to see and hear them.  As they chanted:

We here
We been here
We ain’t leaving.

Department of African American Studies Core Faculty:
Anna Arabindan Kesson, African American Studies & Art and Archaeology
Wendy Laura Belcher, African American Studies & Comparative Literature
Ruha Benjamin, African American Studies
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., African American Studies & Religion
Joshua Guild, African American Studies & History
Tera Hunter, African American Studies & History
Naomi Murakawa, African American Studies
Kinohi Nishikawa, African American Studies & English
Chika O. Okeke-Agulu, African American Studies & Art and Archaeology
Imani Perry, African American Studies
Stacey Sinclair, African American Studies & Psychology
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, African American Studies

Princeton University Faculty, Fellows and Lecturers:
Ben Baer, Comparative Literature
Joao Biehl, Anthropology
Margot Canaday, History
Bruno Carvalho, Spanish and Portuguese
Miguel Centeno, Sociology
Garnet Chan, Chemistry
Zahid Chaudhary, English
Katie Chenoweth, French and Italian
Sarah Chihaya, English
Steven Chung, East Asian Studies
Andrew Cole, English
Alin Coman, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Jessica Delgado, Religion
Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones, Spanish and Portuguese
Susan Draper, Comparative Literature
Lauren Emberson, Psychology
Karen Emmerich, Comparative Literature
Margaret Frye, Sociology
Paul Frymer, Politics
Robert George, Politics
Simon Gikandi, English
William Gleason, English
Tao Leigh Goffe, African American Studies
Javier Guerrero, Spanish and Portuguese
Tod Hamilton, Sociology
Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy & Center for Human Values
Brian Eugenio Herrera, Program in Theater & Lewis Center for the Arts
Erin Huang, East Asian Studies
Alison Isenberg, History
Desmond Jagmohan, Politics
Amaney Jamal, Politics
Justin Jungé, Psychology
Matthew Karp, History
Beatrice Kitzinger, Art and Archaeology
Emmanuel Kreike, History
Regina Kunzel, History & Gender and Sexuality Studies
Hendrik Lorenz, Philosophy
Nell Painter, History & African American Studies
Betsy Levy Paluck, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Gyan Prakash, History
Rachel Price, Spanish and Portuguese
Bridget Purcell, Anthropology
Joe Scanlan, Visual Arts Program
Eldar Shafir, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Irene Small, Art & Archaeology
LaFleur Stephens, Politics
Dara Strolovitch, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Diana Tamar, Psychology
Marta Tienda, Sociology & Woodrow Wilson School
Anastasia Mann, American Studies
Meredith Martin, English
Alecia McGregor, Woodrow Wilson School
Germán Labrador Méndez, Spanish and Portuguese
Angel Loureiro, Spanish and Portuguese
Jarvis McInnis, African American Studies
Pedro Meira Monteiro, Spanish and Portuguese
David Minto, History
Kathleen Nolan, Program in Teacher Preparation
Carolyn Rouse, Anthropology
Rory Truex, Politics & Woodrow Wilson School
Deborah Vischak, Art & Archaeology
Judith Weisenfeld, Religion
Keith Wailoo, History & Woodrow Wilson School
Max Weiss, History & Near Eastern Studies
Tamsen Wolff, English

Saturday, July 18, 2015

1:54 FORUM NY: Opening Remarks & Panel: Global Black Subjectivities

Just found this audio recording of the panel discussion organized by Koyo Kouoh (of Raw Material Company, Dakar) for 1:54 Forum, as part of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, 15-16 May 2015, at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NYC. If you have the time and interest on black subjectivities and contemporary art, you are welcome to listen to it on Youtube.

Listen on Youtube

And BTW, here is a note I wrote in May following my trip to 1:54 Art Fair:

 Last week, I was at the 1:54 Forum, the superb discussion program of the Contemporary African Art Fair established a couple of years ago by Touria El Glaoui. 1:54 (the 54, referring to the number of African Countries) is arguably the most important platform for selling contemporary African art to the world, through the agency of art galleries invested in this field. By placing the Forum, organized by curator Koyo Kouoh, who runs the RAW Material Company in Dakar, at the very center of the fair program, Touria and Koyo signal in unmistakable terms their awareness that the fair, apart from serving as a metamarket for African art, has to join intellectual and scholarly groundwork needed to further break the barriers that have long kept this field--especially the work of artists working inside the continent--from reaching certain attractive realms of the art world.
In coming to New York, the art and money capital of the United States, which unfortunately has not been a particularly fertile ground for contemporary African art (as big as its art world is, only the first rate Jack Shainman and, to a lesser extent, Bill Karg's longer-running Contemporary African Art Gallery, and Skoto Gallery have kept continental African artists visible in the city's art scene) the organizers of the art fair seem poised to shake things up as never before.The question in the end is whether stakeholders--galleries and collectors from New York and elsewhere--will recognize the fair's potential and therefore identify with it in the coming years. My hope though is that the organizers of 1-54 keep faith with the work of supporting intellectual debates, artists' presentations and conversations anchored around its Forum. But also, I would like to see the fair expand its horizon beyond serving as platform for African art galleries. It ought to grow, to become the place where galleries in the African and black diaspora--whether they are in Europe, the Americas, Asia--can identify with. That is to say, let it become the Pan-African contemporary art fair. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Class Day Photos, Art & Archaeology Department, Princeton

Tuesday, June 1 was Class Day, and this year was an especially good year with some fine especially theses for the (Program 1: Art History) and thesis exhibitions (for Program 2: Studio Art). And yes, some really smart young women and men. 

Chair, Michael Koortbojian address the audience

Professor Michael Koortbojian

 Here are samples of Honors Thesis and Thesis Exhibitions from Programs 1 & 2:
Phway Su Aye thesis on Yangon's colonial architectural heritage

Joseph Thomas Bonura's thesis on War Posters in America

Elizabeth Hall Rise on Social Surrealism in mid-20th-century America

Yael Wollstein's thesis on the French modernist Maurice Denis

Hoi Lam Helen Wong's investigative thesis on a carved stone fragment in the Princeton
Univ. Art Museum, from ancient Egypt

Joe Scanlan, Director & Professor of Visual Arts (Lewis Center for the Arts), presents
thesis exhibitions

Margaret Ann Craycraft's video, Labor Against Waste (in the background)

Kemy Chuxia Lin's Disorientations, an installation featuring multimedia evidence of her
documented trip to the moon

Amber Symone Stewart's Black Balance, a video and photographic installation on comparative blackness

Christopher Bogle Webb St. John's Bench, a multimedia installation on the relationship between object (Bench),
meaning and experience
Amber Stewart receives The Herbert L. Lucas Award in Visual Arts

Elizabeth Hall Rise receives The White Prize in Art and Archaeology, the top departmental prize. Ms. Rise also received the Grace May Tilton Prize in the Program in American Studies

Alison Kay Itzkowitz receives the Rensselear Lee Prize (for a thesis on art theory and literature)

Yael Wollstein receives The Irma S. Steiz Prize for the best thesis in the Field of Modern Art

Dalma Foldesi and Misha Semenov jointly received The Frederick Barnard White Prize in Architecture. Misha was Princeton's Valedictorian this year! 

Elizabeth Hall Rise receives The Federick Barnard White Prize in Art and Archaeology

Phway Su Aye receives The Senior Thesis Prize

Amber Stewart's grand father among the guests 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Public presentation of my book Postcolonial Modernism @ Goethe-Institut, Lagos, June 18

I am truly excited that there will be a public presentation of my newest book at the Goethe-Institut, Lagos on June 18. I am expecting friends new and old, and colleagues from far and near. Please come if you are in the vicinity of Lagos. Thanks to Marc-Andre Schmachtel, the Director of the GI, Lagos for making this possible!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Artists Residency program opportunity at Khoj, India

Coriolis Effect
Currents across India and Africa

Khoj International Residency program
1 – 31 August, 2015

Application Deadline: June 1, 2015

Khoj invites applications from artists and cultural practitioners for its forthcoming residency program, Coriolis Effect: Currents across India and Africa, a project which seeks to activate the social, economic and cultural relationship and historical exchange which exists between India and the continent of Africa. In part, the rationale behind Coriolis Effect is in response to Khoj’s immediate neighborhood of Khirkee Village Extension; a dense urban –village environment in New Delhi that has been home to a stream of immigrants from within the Indian Subcontinent, as well as migrants from countries such as Cameroon, Somali, Nigeria, Kenya, Afghanistan and Nepal, to name a few. This hotpot of cultural difference has long been a source of friction between residents, often bubbling into acts of discrimination based violence. This project has grown out of a series of encounters and conversations which took place in and around Khoj through 2014.

This project invites participants to unpack notions of geography, memory, cultural exchange as well as tension and fear of the ‘other’, through history. Coriolis Effect will not only use the present context of 21st century migrations, but equally refer to various moments of exchange through history; from the recent past of the Non-Aligned movements in the 20th century, to the cultural relationship shared exchanged by Indians and Africans from the 1st century AD onwards. 
Specific areas of interest for this project include ‘Identity’- whether informed through ideas of race, ethnicity and cultural difference; or informed through notions of ‘belonging’, within the changing context of what constitutes a nation, and what delineates a city, in today’s burgeoning landscape. Identity can also be construed through understanding of gendered and sexualized spaces, in particular, the presentation of ‘masculinity’ as a trope of fear and aggression in the context of racial difference.  The project will also investigate the presence of ‘memory’, through a re-collection of this shared history, and remnants of this history in physical and intangible forms alike. A final point of departure for this project includes political imaginings, as informed through allegiances created in the late 20th century, following the period of the Cold War and the Non-Aligned period.

Application Details

To apply for this program, please submit the following documents to ‘

·         Recent C.V.
·         A letter of intent / project proposal
·         Images or links to past work

Residency Details

Selected applicants will receive a production budget, daily living allowance, studio space and accommodation at Khoj, as well as curatorial and administrative support to realize proposed projects. Khoj supports national and international travel for selected applicants where possible. International applicants are encouraged to seek support for travel where possible. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Nero su Bianco" exhibition opens @ The American Academy in Rome

This exhibition, Nero su Bianco,organized by Lyle Ashton Harris, Robert Storr, and Peter Benson Miller, is part of the major international conference, Portraiture{s} II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories to be held at New York University, Florence, Italy at Villa La Pietra (May 28-31). It includes heavy hitters like Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson and Lorna Simpson, the venerable Barbara Chase-Riboud, and such newer exciting talents as Theo Eshetu, Jeblila Okongwu and Meleko Mokgosi. If in Rome, go see this show!

Meleko Mokgosi, Ruse of Disavowal, 2013. Image courtesy of