October 2014

President's Update: October 2014 
(PDF version attached)


Dear ASWAD Members and Friends,


This month, we launch the Call for Papers for ASWAD's 8th Biennial Conference. The conference will be held in Charleston, South Carolina USA, with the theme "African Diaspora Circularities: Forging Communities, Cultures and Politics." This is a wonderful opportunity for us to experience the rich history and culture of the Low Country, the Gullah and Geechee traditions, and the exciting work being done at our host institution, the College of Charleston, where its Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. Our local chairs this year will be Executive Board Member Antonio Tillis, recently named Dean of the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs at the College of Charleston, and Advisory Board member Margaret Washington of Cornell University, a renowned specialist in the region's history.


As most of you are aware, we left Santo Domingo with plans to hold the 2015 conference in Fez, Morocco. Several complications made it impossible for us to ensure that all aspects of the conference planning would be ready in time. Our original conference convener, Chouki el Hamel, will continue to look into developing a future Morocco conference.  


Our original theme for Fez reflected our interest in the movement of African peoples, past and present, and the implications of those movements for constituting diasporic politics, identities and relationships. Additionally, Morocco's location was an ideal place to focus on the intersection of many regions constructed as discrete - North Africa, Europe, West Africa, the Atlantic, the Islamic world, etc. - but whose contours often look quite different through the lens of the African peoples who circulate through those spaces. We are especially interested in the shifting contexts of African diaspora experience in Europe. In conjunction with the Board, our Program Committee, chaired by Rosanne Adderley and Elisa Joy White, and including Yvonne Daniel, Jualynne Dodson, Mara Marahouan, and Deborah Thomas, has done an excellent job incorporating those interests into the Charleston Call for Papers, which is now available on our website: aswadiaspora.org.



New Positions at ASWAD


Vice President: At our Santo Domingo Business Meeting, members voted to institute the position of Vice President, and to re-name the Director's title as President. This is an important development, as it will provide us with continuity in the administration should the President become unavailable. The title change is more easily translated to other languages and contexts, and gives us the title of director to use for special offices within ASWAD.


I am extremely pleased to announce that Leslie Alexander was elected by the Executive Board to serve as ASWAD's first Vice President. Leslie has been a member of the Board since 2009, and served as the chair of the Program Committee for Pittsburgh in 2011. Last year, she assisted with the coordination of the Local Arrangements Committee and the Program Committee for the Santo Domingo conference, and served as acting Secretary for the fall of 2013.


More than simply a substitute for the President, the Vice President will be primarily responsible for coordinating the work of the various conference committees with the officers and staff, particularly that of the Program Committee and the Local Arrangements Committee. It was determined by the Board that the VP will begin in a staggered term from that of the President, but that the VP will be eligible to run for office as President if s/he so chooses. For the first term, the VP was nominated and elected by the Board, and thereafter will stand for election by the general membership.


Secretary: With the departure of ASWAD Secretary Yuko Miki for maternity leave (mother, baby and family are happy and well), Bayo Holsey will be serving as Secretary to complete the remainder of Yuko's term.


Manager for Special Projects: ASWAD member Diana Lachatanere (familiar to many of us from her years as Senior Archivist at the Schomburg Center manuscripts division) will be assisting ASWAD on administrative projects, including organizing ASWAD's archives and an expanded new website.


Director for Targeted Initiatives: Erik McDuffie will be spearheading some of our initiatives as we begin to position ourselves to be able to expand our activities beyond the conference. His first project will be a proposal for broadening ASWAD's relationship with our graduate student members, building on the recently implemented mentoring workshops created by Jualynne Dodson that will now be a regular part of our conferences.


You can see profiles of all our Board members on the ASWAD website: http://aswadiaspora.org/officers.html



ASWAD Retreat 2014


In January 2014, the ASWAD Executive and Advisory Boards met at Duke University, with thanks to Bayo Holsey as coordinator. This meeting allowed us extended time to discuss and follow up on the issues raised at the general meeting. We plan to continue this practice to enable us to more effectively address ASWAD's development as we reach a new stage with a greatly expanded membership and our 15th anniversary.


While ASWAD has always had an Executive Board, I created the Advisory Board in 2012 in order to take advantage of the expertise and institutional members of previous Board members. The Advisory Board does not vote, but members may attend the Executive Board meetings and receive administrative emails. Currently, the Advisory Board members include approximately 20 former board members who have expressed an interest in assisting in that capacity. Beginning in 2015, we will determine the number of members of the Advisory Board, who will serve renewable terms of 2 years.



Volunteers Needed


Our "Links" page needs an update! If you are interested in helping us update our page listing resources in African diaspora studies, please send an email with the heading "Links Volunteer" to diana.


Over the next academic year, we will be continuing to work on strengthening ASWAD's foundation for our future growth. We have taken great steps forward in our technology to facilitate our conference submissions and notifications, as well as elections, and we will soon be updating our website. One of my priorities has also been supporting our global collaboratives, on which I will be reporting back to you in Charleston.


I'm extremely excited that ASWAD will be in the remarkable city of Charleston next year, and I look forward to celebrating our 15th anniversary with each of you. Our members have made ASWAD a unique academic community, and our conference always a stimulating dialogue on the African diaspora from a range of perspectives as diverse as the diaspora itself. So please considering submitting a proposal for our 2015 conference, and I'll see you in Charleston!




Kim D. Butler, President




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