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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2009

T C 357 • CANCELLED - The African Diaspora: Culture, Identity, Power

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43770 W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
CRD 007B

Course Description

This seminar introduces students to the African Diaspora as a historical, political, and cultural project. The African Diaspora is a unique and complex phenomenon based on a history of experiences, contributions, and struggles emerging out of the global dispersion of people of African descent. This course broadly surveys issues of cultural production and identity formation among communities of the African diaspora. It is framed around the idea that notions of culture—particularly Black/African culture—are constitutive of political, socio-historical, and economic conditions that are forged through power relations. In this course, therefore, we will recognize the centrality of power as we examine questions of culture and of representation, of history, of aesthetics, of leisure, of subjugation, and of politics in the African Diaspora.

In our engagement with this survey of culture and politics in the African diaspora, we will explore, among other things: global/transnational understandings and articulations of Blackness; the significance of race and racial identity, particularly in relationship to slavery and the rise of global capitalism; the relationship between politics and Black cultural production and expression; and the political economy of contemporary transnational Black existence. The goal is to understand Black peoples' various forms of cultural and political practices as they negotiate self, identity, and community in the contemporary context of global oppression and marginalization. Topics covered in the course will be broad and span wide-ranging geographical areas (as wide-ranging as the African diaspora itself), and reflect unifying cultural, socio-economic, and political characteristics of African diaspora communities.

Grading Policy

Attendance and participation 10%
Discussion leading 20%
Critical Essays (2 @ 25%) 50%
Book review 20%


Brown, B. (1998). Infectious Rhythm: Metaphors of Contagion and the Spread of African Culture
James, C. L. R., (1989). The Black Jacobins: Toussaint Louverture and the San Domingo Revolution
Penvenne, Jeanne M., (1995). African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenco Marques, 1877-1962
Dandicat, Edwidge, (1999). The Farming of Bones
Vargas, João C., (2006). Catching Hell in the City of Angels: Life and Meanings of Blackness in South Central, Los Angeles
Eshun, Ekow, (2005). Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in Africa and Beyond

About the Professor

Dr. Jemima Pierre is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and an affiliate of the Center for African and African American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Pierre received her B.A. in African Diaspora Studies from Tulane University, and later received her Master of Arts and PhD degrees in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. She held a joint appointment in African American Studies and Anthropology at The University of Illinois at Chicago from 2002 until 2005, when she came to join UT's faculty.

Dr. Pierre researches and publishes on ideologies and practices of race and its relationship to global structures of power in Africa and the African diaspora. She specializes in both African diaspora theory and critical race theory, as well as on U.S. immigration politics. She is currently completing a manuscript entitled, Race Across the Atlantic: Postcolonial Africa and the Predicaments of Racialization. The book is an ethnographic study of the historical and contemporary cultural and political practices of race-making in urban Ghana; it examines how people are shaped by and respond to local and global hierarchies of race and power.

Dr. Pierre has been the recipient of a number of fellowships from major research organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, The Smithsonian Institution, the Social Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the David C. Driskell Center for African Diaspora Studies.

Dr. Pierre was born in Gros, Morne, Haiti, and grew up in Miami, Florida.

Hobbies and other interests:

Dr. Pierre is a classically trained mezzo-soprano and enjoys singing with chamber choirs. While an undergraduate student in New Orleans, she was a member of the professional group, "New Orleans Heritage Ensemble," which focused primarily on the performance of “Negro Spirituals”. Dr. Pierre also enjoys competitive sports (flag football, cycling, ultimate Frisbee); she is also a certified aerobics instructor.


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