Africana Studies and Research Center
THE STUART HALL PROJECT WITH FILMMAKER JOHN AKOMFRAH
Panel Discussion, 2:30 p.m.
Africana Studies; Comparative Literature, New York University
Grant Aubrey Farred
Africana Studies and Research Center; English, Cornell University
Development Sociology, Cornell University
Film Screening, 4:30 p.m.
John Akomfrah, filmmaker
Co-sponsored by the Society for the Humanities, Africana Studies and Research Center, Anthropology, History of Art, Development Sociology, Art, and English
Highly acclaimed at the Sundance and Sheffield Documentary festivals of 2013, the new film from award-winning documentarian John Akomfrah (The Nine Muses) is a sensitive, emotionally charged portrait of cultural theorist Stuart Hall. A founding figure of contemporary cultural studies – and one of the most inspiring voices of the post-war Left – Stuart Hall’s resounding and ongoing influence on British intellectual life commenced soon after he emigrated from Jamaica in 1951. Combining extensive archival imagery – television excerpts, radio excerpts, family photos – with specially filmed material and a personally mixed Miles Davis soundtrack, Akomfrah’s filmmaking approach matches the agility of Hall’s intellect, its intimate play with memory, identity and scholarly impulse traversing the changing historical landscape of the second half of the 20th century.
John Akomfrah has been committed for the last 30 years to giving a voice and a presence to the legacy of the African Diaspora in Europe; to fill in the voids in history by digging into historical archives to create film essays and speculative fictional stories about past lives. His poetic and polyphonic films create sensual visual and audio experiences while developing a filmic language to understand the trauma and sense of alienation of displaced subjects; one that moves away from the rhetoric of resentment to propose new agents and perspectives. Born in 1957, John Akomfrah lives and works in London. An artist, lecturer, and writer, as well as a filmmaker, his work is among the most distinctive in the contemporary British art world. Akomfrah is well known for his work with the London-based media workshop Black Audio Film Collective, which he co-founded in 1982, together with Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, David Lawson, and Edward George. Since 1998, Akomfrah has worked primarily within the independent film and television production companies, Smoking Dogs Films (London) and Creation Rebel Films (Accra). Alongside Akomfrah's successful career in cinema and television, his work has been widely shown in museums and galleries including Documenta 11, Kassel; the De Balie, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A major retrospective of Akomfrah's gallery-based work with the Black Audio Film Collective premiered at FACT, Liverpool and Arnolfini, Bristol in 2007. His films have been included in international film festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Sundance, among others. In 2008, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). In March 2012, he was awarded the European Cultural Foundation's Princess Margriet Award.
Manthia Diawara is the Distinguished University Professor of Film and Comparative Literature; and Director of the Institute of African American Affairs, New York University. Diawara is a native of Mali, has published widely on film, visual arts, and literature of Africa and the African Diaspora. He is the author of several books, including: In Search of Africa (Harvard University Press, 2000);African Cinema: Politics & Culture (Indiana University Press, 1987); and the editor of Black Genius: African American Solutions to African American Problems (1999); Blackface (1999); Black British Cultural Studies: A Reader (1996); and Black American Cinema (1985). His book, We Won't Budge: An African Exile in the World (New York: BasicCivitas Books, 2003), gained wide acclaim as a brilliant meditation on the existential experience of the postcolonial African intellectual. His most recent publication isAfrican Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics (Prestel, 2010). Diawara is also a filmmaker, whose documentary films includeRouch in Reverse, Bamako Sigi Kan, Conakry Kas, and Sembene Ousmane: The Making of African Cinema. More recently Diawara directed Edouard Glissant: One World in Relation (2010); andMaison Tropicale (2008). Diawara received his education in France and later traveled to the United States for his university studies. He received his B.A. (1976) from American University and his M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1985) from Indiana University.
Grant Farred teaches at Cornell University. His most recent book is In Motion, At Rest: The Event of the Athletic Body (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). His other works include What’s My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals (University of Minnesota Press, 2004), Phantom Calls: Race and the Globalization of the NBA(Prickly Paradigm, 2006) and Long Distance Love: A Passion for Football (Temple University Press, 2008). He served as General Editor of the Duke University-based journal, The South Atlantic Quarterly, from 2002 to 2010. He is the editor of the series, “Thinking Theory Now,” Stanford University Press. His forthcoming works include Conciliation (Temple University Press) and The Condemned: Lio Messi, Luis Suarez and the 2014 World Cup.
Fouad Makki is a social theorist who studies the historical sociology of Northeast Africa, the postwar development initiative, the political economy of agrarian change, and the place of colonialism in the making of modernity. He joined the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell in 2006 where he teaches courses on social theory, theories of development, and the historical sociology of modernity. He has published various essays on state formation, nationalism, and development including most recently, “Development by Dispossession: Terra Nullius and the Social-Ecology of New Enclosures in Ethiopia” (Rural Sociology79(1), 2014); “The Spatial Ecology of Power: Long-Distance Trade and State Formation in Northeast Africa” (Journal of Historical Sociology 2011); ‘Empire and Modernity: Dynastic Centralization and Official Nationalism in Late Imperial Ethiopia’ (Cambridge Review of International Affairs 2011); and ‘The Empire of Capital and the Remaking of Center-Periphery Relations’ (Third World Quarterly 2004). His current research examines land grabbing in Ethiopia and Africa in the context of the world economic, energy, and food crises and the great global enclosures of our times.