April 24, 2020
Dear ASWAD Family,
As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, we hope and pray that you, your family and all loved ones are safe and healthy during these increasingly perilous times. We know too well that all over the world, ongoing racial and economic inequalities explain why COVID-19 kills people of color in highly disproportionate numbers. Black and brown people cannot always take protective social distancing measures while disproportionately located in densely populated communities, living spaces, homeless shelters, and prisons. For many of us locked in low-paying service jobs now declared essential, “shelter-in-place” is an unattainable luxury. Pre-existing health conditions of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity linked to the stress of racism, food deserts, and limited access to quality health care place us at even greater risk. Racialized thinking and xenophobic practices that position African descendants as sub-human continue to escalate overt and thinly veiled anti-black racist practices throughout all our societies.
I write from a deep well of personal pain as my wife and me have lost an aunt, an uncle, a cousin and a cherished friend, former colleague and fellow congregant in the last two weeks. For those of you who are grieving the loss of family and friends, please know that the entire ASWAD family grieves with you. We mourn the lonely deaths of loved ones due to forced separation and our inability to provide personalized care, say last goodbyes, or bring families together for funeral services. We love you and stand in solidarity with you. We stand in solidarity with all people affected by COVID-19, and especially with the most vulnerable in our global village. We stand in solidarity with sick undocumented immigrants who risk seeking potentially life-saving health care that can bring unwanted attention from ICE agents charged with deporting them and their families. But even as we also mourn the loss of a number of black intellectuals, musicians, and artists whose work we will continue to cherish, we also celebrate those of us who, despite contracting the coronavirus, have managed to regain health and be reunited with loved ones. As we move through these troubled waters, I hope that we all can draw strength and sustenance from our uniquely powerful history, our resonant culture, and our respective faith and spiritual traditions. We are a strong and resilient people who have weathered so many storms. With continued love, compassion and community, this too shall pass.
A luta continua,
Robert Trent Vinson
The Rosalyn Terborg-Penn Book Prize annually acknowledges an outstanding single-authored, book- length publication in English on topics related to gender and sexuality in African and the African diaspora submitted by or on behalf of a scholar, activist, and/or artist. The award committee will consider books on any period and from any discipline. Nominees for this prize who also meet the qualifications for ASWAD’s Outstanding First Book Prize or The Sterling Stuckey Prize may submit their work for consideration by both prize committees.
The Sterling Stuckey Book Prize annually acknowledges books published in English submitted by or on behalf of a scholar, activist, and/or artist who has at least one previous single-authored publication. Nominated books must be on topics related to the study of the worldwide African diaspora. The award committee will consider books on any period from any discipline that examines the people and/or physical environment of Africa and/or its diaspora. The committee is particularly interested in books that are methodologically and conceptually innovative and represent literary excellence. Nominees for this prize who also meet the qualifications for ASWAD’s Rosalyn Terborg-Penn Prize may submit their work for consideration by both prize committees.
The 2020 Outstanding First Book Prize annually honors an outstanding single-authored book focused on Africa and/or the African diaspora submitted by or on behalf of a scholar, activist, and/or artist who has not previously published a single-authored monograph. The award committee will consider books on any period and from any discipline published in English and is particularly interested in books that are methodologically and conceptually innovative and demonstrate academic excellence. Nominees for this prize who also meet the qualifications for ASWAD’s Rosalyn Terborg-Penn Prize may submit their work for consideration by both prize committees.
The Outstanding Article Prize annually acknowledges peer-reviewed articles published in English during the 2019 calendar year. Nominated articles must be on topics related to the study of Africa and the African diaspora that meet the standard of excellence. The award committee will consider scholarly articles on any period and from any discipline.
Thabiti Willis, Associate Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies, has been awarded the prestigious New Directions Fellowship from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Fellowship will support Willis’ three-year research project, “Slaves and Singers: Race, Work and Heritage in a Gulf Country.” The substantial fellowship, in the amount of $300,000, will enable Willis to address social, cultural, and historical factors that shaped the experiences of Africans and their descendants in the Indian Ocean World, and their place in contemporary public depictions of the history of the Gulf states. The funding primarily supports summer and sabbatical leave time, along with fellow’s training programs.
New Direction Fellowships are awarded to highly accomplished faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. Since 2002, the program has enabled strong scholars to conduct serious cross-disciplinary research in an academic field other than their primary area of specialization. Among all grants available to humanities scholars, New Directions Fellowships are among the largest in size and longest in duration. Eligible candidates include faculty members who have been awarded a doctorate in the humanities or humanistic social sciences within the last six to twelve years.
ASWAD’s founding director, Michael A. Gomez, was awarded the 2019 African Studies Association Book Prize for African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa (Princeton University Press).
ASWAD member John Thabiti Willis received honorable mention for the prize for Masquerading Politics: Kinship, Gender, and Ethnicity in Yoruba Town (Indiana University Press.
Congrats to you both!
It is with great sadness that African Studies Association announces the death of Professor Tejumola Olaniyan, one of the most accomplished of our community. He served on the African Studies Association’s Board of Directors from 2012 to 2015, as Program Co-Chair of the 2012 ASA Annual Meeting, and was the President of the African Literature Association from 2013 to 2014 ; he was currently serving as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA). Professor Olaniyan was a vibrant presence at our annual meetings, including at the one a few short days ago, when we gathered in Boston. He died from sudden heart failure at his home in Wisconsin-Madison. He had just turned 60 on 3 April this year. (more…)
In the wake of another wave of white nationalist and Nazi demonstrations across the globe, the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) reaffirms our opposition to the growing fascist movements throughout the African Diaspora. During these troubled times, ASWAD denounces all forms of harassment, aggression, and violence based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. We remain outraged by the U.S. president’s willingness to excuse and (more…)
On Friday, January 27, 2017, the newly inaugurated president of the United States issued an Executive Order barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen entry into the United States for 90 days; prohibiting all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days; and banning Syrian refugees for an indefinite period of time. This decision is the practical equivalent of a ban against Muslims entering the United States. In the days that followed, airports (more…)
Over the past two weeks, in the aftermath of a hotly contested presidential election, a wave of racist and xenophobic attacks has swept across the United States. In elementary and middle schools, young Latino/a children are taunted with chants of “Build the Wall” and “Go Back to Mexico.” At universities, similar jeers taunt our Black and Brown students, as students and others who are aligned with the White supremacist rhetoric of the U.S. president-elect feel they have gotten a “green light” to (more…)
The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all organizations throughout the African Diaspora that are committed to asserting the humanity of African-descended peoples across the globe. Recent protests against the murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and countless others have caused a disturbing backlash against the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its mission to end police brutality and (more…)
ASWAD extends its condolences to the families of those massacred at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on June 17, 2015 in a criminal act of domestic terrorism. We share in the pain of all who are suffering, but also in the outrage that anti-black violence continues to erupt in societies that continue to cling to the ideologies of racial supremacy, inequality, and ignorance that constituted the very foundations on which they were built. (more…)
The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora stands with the thousands of people outraged over the refusal of the Ferguson grand jury to send the case of the murder of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson to trial. We stand also with the families and communities of other black youth around the world facing similar targeting and violence at the hands of police, such as the React or Be Killed movement (FB group “Reaja ou Sera Morto”) in Bahia, Brazil seeking justice for Davi Alves and other black men murdered or disappeared in police custody. (more…)