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Kent State’s Pan-African Studies Presents Historian and NYU Professor Dr. Michael Gomez, Sept. 14

Posted Aug. 31, 2011

The Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University welcomes nationally and internationally known scholar Dr. Michael A. Gomez to campus on Wednesday, Sept. 14. His lecture, titled “Was Culture a Location of Resistance in the Americas? Examining the African Experience,” takes place in Oscar Ritchie Hall at 7 p.m. preceded by a 6 p.m. reception in front of the hall’s first-floor gallery. The reception and lecture are free and open to the public.

Photo of Michael GomezAs a historian, Gomez will examine and address the debate regarding culture as a site of resistance among slaves of African descent in the Americas. “Some scholars argue that culture was not a direct site of resistance but rather an accidental, rapidly and consistently changing sphere of action and negotiation, while others argue that in fact culture was a constraint that had to be overcome in developing new African American identities, whether in North or South America,” explained Wendy Wilson-Fall, chair and associate professor in Pan-African Studies at Kent State.

Gomez is currently professor of history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University, having served as the director of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) from its inception in 2000 to 2007. He also has served as chair of the history departments at both NYU and Spelman College and served as president of UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization) International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project from 2009 to 2011. 

His first book, “Pragmatism in the Age of Jihad: The Precolonial State of Bundu” (Cambridge University Press, 1992), examines a Muslim polity in what is now eastern Senegal. The next publication, “Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South” (University of North Carolina Press, 1998), is concerned with questions of culture and race as they were informed by the African presence and experience. “Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora” (Cambridge University Press, 2005) is primarily aimed at an undergraduate audience and is more fully involved with the idea of an African diaspora, as is “Diasporic Africa: A Reader” (New York University Press, 2006), an edited volume that spans time and space in investigating a variety of themes and issues. “Black Crescent: African Muslims in the Americas” (Cambridge University Press, 2005, Black Caucus of the American Library Association 2006 Literary Awards Winner for Nonfiction Category), continues with the study of the African diaspora by looking at the ways in which African Muslims negotiated their bondage and freedom throughout the Americas, but in ways that allowed for significant integration of Islamic African cultures into the larger community.

Gomez is currently working on a history of medieval West Africa and is involved with the manuscript collection project underway in Mali.

Gomez’s appearance at Kent State is presented by the Department of Pan-African Studies and is funded by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council. For more information on Kent State’s Department of Pan-African Studies, call 330-672-2300 or visit www.kent.edu/CAS/PAS.

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Media Contacts:
Wendy Wilson-Fall, wwilson1@kent.edu, 330-672-0142
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595