The Africana Studies and Religion Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium convenes a variety of Africana scholars from a collage of disciplines. Transatlantic studies, Pan-African and African Studies, Diasporic Studies, literary criticism, critical theory, in and beyond religious studies: these suggest the many ways that continuing migrations continue to shape an emerging discourse.
This growing discourse shapes identities in scholarly communities for which Africa is an originary trope, a reference to cultural forms that interrogate and vitalize the production of knowledge. In response to these realities we invite Africana scholars to gather around, and to become a Baobab tree. The Baobab tree - an African icon of vast life amidst arid circumstances - offers an image of the growing, branching vitality of the many connected strands of diasporic discourse.
We meet amidst profound and amplified anxieties about nationality, citizenship, religious identities and immigration across the globe. The U.S. elections reflect institutionalizations of global politics of extremism and insularity that are the antitheses of diasporic impulses. Further, Brexit, Islamophobia, and xenophobic violence in South Africa reflect impulses willing to enforce ethnic boundary patrolling and maintenance, political and symbolic.
These developments contextualize and intensify pre-existing tensions and uncertainties that underlie diasporic experiences. They, then infuse new notes of urgency, deepen, and enhance the critical and resistant edges of Africana disciplines.
At the 2017 TTC, we will explore the content and contours of emergent Africana Religious Studies. This multi-lingual conversation circles the Baobab tree, with performances and themes deriving from various locations of the Black Atlantic, as well as addresses questions related to the religious, spiritual, aesthetic, and social needs of African descended people in Diaspora. The confluence of different cultural strategies and styles of epistemic methodologies provide an interesting critique of the fault lines in a decolonizing encounter of liberatory and restorative performances, analyses, and theories.
The rhizomatic traits of the Baobab tree, permeating scholarship that brims with activism, will galvanize, toward arterial connectivities and solidarities, a response to diasporic antitheses.