Bessie House-Soremekun reveals “The Africa the World Seldom Sees”

Bessie House-Soremekun

Bessie House-Soremekun

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun analyzes the production of knowledge about African Societies by interrogating the multifarious stereotypical images of Africa often presented by network television, radio, popular media, movies and novels. These images often encapsulate static narratives and encoded messages that diminish Africa’s historical and contemporary contributions to the world. In many cases, Africa is still projected as a static “other” that has not embraced change and development. Dr. House-Soremekun compares these interpretations to earlier conceptualizations of African people and their cultures which were depicted by the Europeans during the era of imperialism and colonialism. She also probes the various ways in which peoples of the African Diaspora are continually affected by these images and are marginalized in the era of globalization when modern technologies daily project these images to many countries of the world.  This lecture supplements “The Africa the World Seldom Sees” Art Exhibition, which is on display at the IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery in February 2015.

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun is the Director of Africana Studies, Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies, Public Scholar in African American Studies, Civic Engagement, and Entrepreneurship, and the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  She has published 6 books and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters.

February 19, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
IUPUI Library, Room UL 4115P

Click here for free tickets!

IUPUI Africana studies program presents first Heritage Week

The Africana Studies Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will inaugurate the first Africana Studies Heritage Week Feb. 9 to 13.

The weeklong celebration will feature a series of public lectures; panel discussions; an art exhibit curated by Bessie House-Soremekun, professor and director of Africana studies; a book signing by Ronda Henry Anthony, public scholar of African American studies and undergraduate research; and film viewings based on the theme of “Reconnecting the African Diaspora to Africa.”

“It is entirely fitting and important for us to establish Africana Studies Heritage Week as one of the important traditions that we will celebrate yearly at IUPUI,” House-Soremekun said.

“We are delighted that we will celebrate the creation of black studies/Africana studies as a viable discipline in academia and pay tribute to the numerous contributions of Africa and of African-descended people who reside in the African Diaspora as part of the broader Black History Month activities. Africa is the birthplace of humankind as we know it and has been central in the development of global civilization processes. Our goal is to expose students, faculty and members of the broader community as a whole to these important issues.”

The Heritage Week celebrations will kick off Monday, Feb. 9, with a lecture featuring Dawn Batson, the former chair of the Department of Visual & Performing Arts at the Florida Memorial University and former chair of the National Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago, as the keynote speaker.

The event begins at 11:40 a.m. in Room 104 of Taylor Hall, 815 W. Michigan St., with introductions from House-Soremekun and Khalilah Shabazz, director of the IUPUI Multicultural Center. Batson will speak from noon to 12:45 p.m.

As part of the Heritage Week observance, House-Soremekun will present an art exhibit and lecture, “The Africa the World Seldom Sees.” Using African artwork from her personal collection, as well as photos she took when she served as a faculty host on the “Treasures of East Africa Tour” to Tanzania and Kenya in 2014 (sponsored by the Indiana University Alumni Association), House-Soremekun will challenge stereotypical images of Africa often presented in popular culture by presenting a compelling counter-narrative that illuminates many positive attributes and beauty of African society.

The art exhibit is open for public viewing Feb. 9 to 28 in Taylor Hall, Room 101.

“The inaugural Africana Studies Heritage Week features a full line-up of very interesting and enjoyable events,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “I commend all those who have collaborated on the organization of this new program, and we’re looking forward to its successful launch.”

Other events open to students, faculty and the general public during Heritage Week include:

12:50 to 2:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, Taylor Hall, Room 115k — Panel discussion about the recent critically acclaimed film “Selma,” moderated by Monroe Little, associate professor of Africana studies and history.
6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, Taylor Hall, Room 101 — A public reception with an Evening of Jazz performed by Bryan Thompson.
1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, Taylor Hall, Room 104 — The lecture “Negotiating Patriarchy, Colonial Legacies and Human Rights Law in Africa” by Obioma Nnaemeka, Chancellor’s professor of French, Africana studies and women’s studies;
Noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, Taylor Hall, Room 104 — A lecture by Ronda Henry Anthony about her book, “Searching for the New Black Man, Black Masculinity and Women’s Bodies.”
10 a.m. to noon Friday, Feb. 13, Taylor Hall, Room 115K — Viewing of the film “Honor & Glory,” the story of the co-discoverer of the North Pole, Matthew Henson.

Additional sponsors for the weeklong event include the IUPUI Office of Admissions; the IU School of Liberal Arts; Office for Diversity, Access, and Inclusion; Multicultural Center, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development.

The first annual Africana Studies Heritage Week is free and open to the public. A complete listing of events is available online.

For more information, call the Africana studies program at 317-274-8662.

University center founders honored at Walker/Douglass lecture series

Two founders of university centers focused on African American business ventures were honored for their contributions during an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis lecture series named for historic businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker.

Juliet E.K. Walker, a pioneer scholar of black business history in America, received the first Madame C.J. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award during the inaugural Madame C.J. Walker/Frederick Douglass Annual Lecture Series on Dec. 6 at the Jewel Center in Indianapolis.

Juliet Walker is the founder of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she has been a professor of history since 2001.

Bessie House-Soremekun, director of Africana studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, received the Global African American Activist Ambassador Award.

House-Soremekun is founding executive director of the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development, part of the School of Liberal Arts. The center’s mission is to build entrepreneurial capacity and sustainable development initiatives in America and African countries.

Juliet Walker, who earned her Ph.D. in American history from the University of Chicago, is considered the foremost scholar in black business history in America. Her development of that field is linked to the publication of her book, “Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier.” Her book, “The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship,” was the first comprehensive study of African American businesses.

“It is entirely befitting for Professor Walker to receive this prestigious award … for the first woman to establish a major field in black entrepreneurship to (receive the inaugural) award named after the first female self-made millionaire in the United States,” said Walker’s letter of nomination.

photo house-soremekun

Bessie House-Soremekun

The Walker/Douglass lecture series was co-hosted and co-created by the Africana Studies Program, an academic unit of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, under the leadership of House-Soremekun, and the Frederick Douglass Papers in in the Institute for American Thought in the School of Liberal Arts, led by Professor John Kaufman-McKivigan.

The theme for this year’s event was “The Life and Times of Madame C.J. Walker: The Historical Development of a Business Empire.” Madam Walker was a self-made African American millionaire, having made a fortune from beauty and hair-care businesses before her death in 1919. Juliet Walker was the luncheon keynote speaker for the event.

The Activist Ambassador Award acknowledges House-Soremekun, also professor of political science and Africana studies at IUPUI, for investing in multicultural networking; exhibiting hope and faith for a brighter future for African-Americans; and bridge building to ensure the African-American community is enlightened and enhanced.

“The presentation of this award is emblematic of the impact that Dr. House-Soremekun has made both at home and abroad,” said David A. Scott Sr., who presented the award to House-Soremekun on behalf of the African American Restoration Movement of Indianapolis and the Globe Changers Movement.