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Monmouth University Hosts 6th Biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Race

Three-day event features distinguished speakers and cultural performances

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University’s 6th biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Race, themed “Race, Memory and Identity,” will bring distinguished speakers and cultural performances to the university campus Nov. 14-16. Scholars from an array of academic perspectives will convene to broadly explore the intersections of race, memory, and identity through workshops, panel discussions, lectures, and more.

“Contemporary social, political, and media discourses demonstrate the continued need to evaluate the differing ways that race and identity impact memory in connection to history, trauma, loss and remembrance,” said Hettie V. Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor of African American history at Monmouth and co-founder of the conference. “Understanding memory as both a subject and a tool can act to promote conversations about how memories of the past impress upon individual and collective memory to shape racial and cultural identities.”

Featured events include opening plenary remarks on Nov. 14 from William Sturkey, Ph.D., assistant professor of history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Nov. 15 keynote address by Qiana Whitted, Ph.D., director of the African American Studies program and professor of literature at the University of South Carolina. Both will be held in Wilson Hall Auditorium.

Sturkey specializes in the history of race in the American South, with a particular interest in the histories of working-class racial minorities. He teaches courses on modern American history, southern history, the Civil Rights Movement, and the history of America in the 1960s.  Whitted’s scholarly expertise is in 20th-century African American literature and culture, American comics and graphic novels, and southern literature. Her most recent project explores debates over the representation of race and racism in American comic books from the late 1940s and 1950s.

On the evening of Nov. 14, the university will also host “Memory in African American Music and Culture: An Extravaganza,” which will feature spoken word poetry, as well as the singing of traditional African American spirituals and contemporary gospel music, among other performances, from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall Auditorium.

Williams highlighted the importance of the music and culture event, noting culture as the primary location of black identity formation in U.S. history.

“As a response to oppression, and the denial of opportunity, African Americans turned to poetry and music to record their grievances, triumphs, and sorrows,” Williams said. “African Americans have recorded and memorialized the black experience in literature and music from the first arrival of Africans in North America to the present.”

The Monmouth University conference on race was founded in 2008 by Williams and Julius Adekunle, Ph.D., professor in the Department of History and Anthropology. Since its inception, it has brought together scholars from more than 15 U.S. states, four continents, and 12 nations.

The conference is free for Monmouth University faculty, students, and staff; however, registration is still required. The registration fee for scholars or members of the general public is $125; non-Monmouth students can attend for $85.

For more information, view the full conference program or contact Brooke Nappi via email at bnappi@monmouth.edu.