African and African Diaspora Studies conference features leading and emerging scholars

 Students, from right, Khalfani Lawson, Karissa Oyola, Bridgette Snyder and Reginald Williams present "Case Studies of Identity & Social Justice in the African Diaspora"

Students share scholarly experiences and research at 5th annual forum

The all-day 5th Annual African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) conference presented a mélange of learning opportunities for the more than 500 students and guests who were exposed to a diverse mixture of student presentations,  perspectives from leading scholars and current research by Kennesaw State and other invited faculty. 

Scholars and experts in the field of African and African Diaspora featured at the conference included keynote presentations by Valentin Y. Mudimbe, the Newman Ivey White professor of literature at Duke University and Howard Dodson, director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and Howard University Libraries and the former chief of the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture; and Beverly Guy-Sheftall,  Anna Julia Cooper professor of women’s studies and director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College.

 “Our primary goal in all of this is to create space and visibility for African and African-Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State, in order to expand the presence of a key academic constituency in the university community,” said Jesse Benjamin, coordinator of  African and African Diaspora Studies and associate professor of sociology interdisciplinary studies.

Students participated in several sessions, presenting research, case studies and results of field experiences in various parts of the African Diaspora. Their sessions included “Mediating the issues of Genocide in the African Context,” a panel presented by 1st - and 2nd-year Ph.D. students in the International Conflict Management Program. Other student panel included “From Civil Rights to Institution Building: Historical Templates for Social Change;” “Case Studies of Identity and Social Change;” How Can I be Down,” a session reflecting  African-American and Afro-Latino perspectives; and “The African Union’s Contemporary Role  in Pan-Africanism,” presented by members of the Model African Union.

 Brigette Snyder, a junior majoring in international affairs and African and African Diaspora studies,  shared the results of her year-long study abroad in South Africa.  She said participation in activities like the AADS conference is vital to students’ academic studies.

 “I cannot think of anything more important than to create conferences that expose students to the greater world around us,” she said.  “It gives each of us the opportunity to learn about something beyond the bubble that growing up in the United States creates. These conferences provide an opportunity to understand the concerns that face the international community that many times are not incorporated into our classroom curriculum. Whenever I attend conferences such as [this] my understanding of the field is expanded upon from both the experts and hearing the experiences of presenters.”

 The night ended in a catered Caribbean buffet, and a Hip Hop Show in the Student Center featuring Waterflow, Humanist, Ambassador, Sa Roc, Kinkade and Buddha Blaze as MC.

-- Sabbaye McGriff