The Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS) continues its rich tradition of hosting a series of “CONVERSATIONS”. Initiated in 1993, The Institute sponsors these free “conversation” with the goal of bringing together members of the Harlem community and the Columbia University community for critical exchange with leading scholars who explore a wide range of issues that have shaped and continue to define the black experience. Through this lecture series we will address the historical and contemporary social, political and economic conditions and experiences of blacks in the U.S. as well as the larger African Diaspora. We invite you to join us as we help shape the future direction of Black Studies.

**All Conversations lectures are held in Room 758 Schermerhorn Extension on the Columbia University Morningside Campus**

Spring 2007
Conversations Series Guest Speakers


Friday, February 2

Dr. Noliwe Rooks

Topic: “Black Is Not a Primary Color: African American Studies and the Future of Higher Education”

Associate Director
African-American Studies Program,
Princeton University

Visiting Adjunct Professor
IRAAS – spring 2007
Columbia University

Noliwe Rooks is the Associate Director of African American Studies at Princeton University. In addition to White Money / Black Power: The Surprising History of African American Studies and the Crisis of Race in Higher Education, she is the author of Ladies Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture that Made Them, a book that explores the social and cultural history of African American women's magazines primarily from 1891-1950. Her first book, Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture and African American Women, won the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book. She was also the associate editor for Paris Connections, African American Artists in Paris 1920-1975 (Q.E.D. Press, 1992) which won an American Book Award. Noliwe received her B.A. in English from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and her M.A. and PH.D in American Studies from the University of Iowa. At Princeton, she teaches courses on nineteenth and twentieth century African American history and culture with a particular focus on Black Women.


Friday, February 16

Mr. Neil Roberts

Topic: “Frederick Douglass’s Marronage: Understanding Political Freedom from Modernity’s Underside”

Center for Africana Studies, John Hopkins University 

Ph.D Candidate
University of Chicago
Political Science

Neil Roberts is a PhD. Candidate in Political Science at The University of Chicago and a member of the Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) Board of Directors. Currently, Roberts also serves as Visiting Faculty at The Johns Hopkins University in the Center for Africana Studies and Department of Political Science. A high school teacher prior to graduate school, he is the recipient of fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.  Roberts has lectured at institutions in the Caribbean and North American including the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe (Puerto Rico), Brown University, New York University, Rutgers University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin, The University of the West Indies (Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad campuses), and Washington University. His present writings deal with the intersections of Caribbean, Continental, and North American political theory with respect to theorizing the concept of freedom

Friday, March 2

Ms. Tanya Greene

Topic: "Race and the Death Penalty in the United States

National Consortium for Capital Defense Training

Visiting Adjunct Professor
IRAAS – Fall 2007
Columbia University

Ms. Greene is currently the Training and Assistance Counsel for the National Consortium for Capital Defense Training where she develops and implements hands-on training for capital defense practitioners across the country.  From 2001 until May 2005, Ms. Greene worked as a Deputy Capital Defender at the New York Capital Defender Office (CDO) where she represented capitally-charged clients in the New York City area.  Prior to her work at CDO, Ms. Greene worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), representing indigent capital clients throughout Alabama and Georgia who might otherwise have gone without counsel. For three years at SCHR, she also served as the Death Penalty Resource Counsel for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), providing capital defense resources and expertise to any of the more than 10,000 NACDL members in the United States, consulting daily with attorneys brainstorming cases, identifying viable trial and appellate challenges, locating experts, and crafting pleadings.



Friday, March 30

Mr. Joseff Sorett

Topic: “Spirit Soundings: Religion, Race and the Arts in 20th Century America”

Ph.D Candidate
Harvard University Department of African and African American Studies

Visiting Scholar
IRAAS – 2006 / 2007
Columbia University

Josef Sorett is a Ph. D. candidate in African American Studies at Harvard University, where he is writing a dissertation on religion, race and the arts in twentieth century America.  His research interests include American and African American religion, religion and the arts, and popular culture.  Josef has worked extensively with youth in education, community-based programs and in church-based settings.  Prior to beginning doctoral work, he completed undergraduate studies at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and received the Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology.  While at Harvard, Josef has taught at such schools as Tufts University, Princeton University and Medgar Evers College (City University of New York), and he is affiliated with the Hip-hop Archive Stanford University.

Friday, April 6 

Mr. Andrew Fearnley

Topic: “Race and Insanity in 20th-Century American Psychiatry”

Ph.D Candidate University of Cambridge, Cambridge UK - History

Visiting Scholar
IRAAS – spring 2007
Columbia University

Andrew Fearnley is a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Cambridge, UK. His thesis is titled 'Ideas of Race and Insanity in the Modern United States', and is an attempt to consider how shifting understandings of race have shaped conceptions of mental illness. He is interested in the way ideas of race are configured through theories and practices of science and medicine. Formerly a Fox Fellow at Yale University, Fearnley's work has appeared in Reviews in American History, the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, and Gender and History.



Friday, April 20

Topic: "The Limits of Emancipation: Black Political Power and the Burning of New York's Colored Orphan Asylum"

Dr. Myisha Priest
Ph.D English -
University of California Berkeley
Visiting Scholar – IRAAS
Columbia University 2006/2007

Myisha Priest was a 2004-6 University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow, and received her Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley English Department. She recently completed her study of figures of children and children's literature in African American writing, "The Children's Miracle: the Impact of Children's Literature on African American Writing.

Friday, May 4th
IRWAG Seminar Room 754 Schermerhorn Extension

IRAAS Graduate Student Lectures

Topics and Speakers

“Economic Undertakings: The Role of North Carolina’s Black Middle Class in the Civil Rights Movement and Alternative Models of Self Determination”

Ms. Tomarra Hall, MA Candidate; African–American Studies

“W.E.B. DuBois and the Atlanta University Conferences: The Institutionalization of an Intellectual Project”

Mr. Justin McLean, MA Candidate; African–American Studies

"Concert Spirituals' Minstrel Inheritance"

Ms. Martha Newland, MA Candidate; African–American Studies

Directions to Room 758 Schermerhorn Extension
To reach Schermerhorn Extension easily enter through the 119th street & Amsterdam Avenue garage entrance; walk past the security guard booth to the glass doors on your left. Come down the hall & take the elevator to the 7th floor.

Campus Map

Past Conversations lecturers have included:

2005 Martha Biondi, Northwestern University; Orlando Lima, Ceo-Limachips Press & Consulting, NY; Dr. Paulette Young, Columbia University; Anne C. Bailey Spelman College; Mignon Moore, Columbia University; Dr. Dana Ain-Davis Columbia University; Dr. Jonathan Kidd, Columbia University ; Sonia Winton, Visiting Research Scholar-IRAAS

2004 David Goldberg , Independent Scholar; Errol Lewis-New York Daily News; Jonathan Kahn, Columbia University; Mia Bay- Rutgers University;; Salim Washington, Brooklyn College and Columbia University; Coco Fusco, Columbia University; Donna Daniels, Columbia University; Asale Angel-Ajani', New York University

2003 David Dent, New York University; Arlene Davila, New York University; Frank Andre Guridy, Visiting Scholar in Residence - Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Kyra Gaunt, New York University; Adam Green; Donald Robotham, The Graduate Center/City University of New York; T.K. Hunter, Visiting Scholar - Columbia University; and the IRAAS Graduate Student MA Thesis Presentations: Candice Carto, Douglas Ficek, Tikia Hamilton, LeShane Lindsey, Christine Pinnock, Russell Rickford

2002 Regina Austin, Columbia University-University of Pennsylvania; LaShonda Barnett, Columbia University/William& Mary College; Kristal Brent-Zook, Columbia University; Veronique Helenon, Columbia University; Jeff Kerr-Ritchie, Schomburg Center Scholar-in-Residence/Columbia University; Lisa Maya-Knauer, Hartwick College; Nicholas McBride, University of Massachusetts; Cheryl Mwaria, Hofstra University/Columbia University; Pedro Perez-Sarduy, Poet/Novelist/Journalist; Tricia Rose, New York University; Geoff Ward, Vera Institute of Justice/Columbia University; Christopher Winks, New York University/Columbia University

2001 Valerie Boyd, Zora Neale Hurston Biographer; Richard Brooks, Northwestern School of Law; Michelle Fine, City University of New York Graduate Center; Louis Massiah, Scribe Video Center & W.E.B. Du Bois biographer; Pedro Noguerra, Harvard University; Jacqueline Stewart, University of Chicago; Alford Young, University of Michigan; Tukufi Zuberi, University of Pennsylvania

2000 Johanna Fernandez, Columbia University; Kai Fikentscher, Columbia University; Thomas Glave, State University of New York-Binghamton; Lynette Jackson, Barnard College; Terry Williams, New School University

1999 Marla Frederick, Duke University; Zachary Morgan, Brown University; Samuel Roberts, Princeton University; Paulette Young, Columbia University


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