Gina Dent: The Idea of Africa

16 May 2018
Masterclass and Lecture Gina Dent

THE MASTERCLASS IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to We will put you on our waiting list.

Scholar and organizer Gina Dent will give a masterclass at the University of Amsterdam called The Idea of Africa (May 16). Besides a masterclass, she will present from her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke University Press) in a lecture at the Black Archives (May 16) and participate in Public Dialogue: Radical Solidarity and Intergenerational Coalitions at the Tropenmuseum (May 13) as part of the program Moving Together: Activism, Art and Education– A Week with Angela Davis. 

Gina Dent (Ph.D., English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.  She served previously as Director of the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research and as Principal Investigator for the UC Multicampus Research Group on Transnationalizing Justice.  She is the editor of Black Popular Culture([1993] New York: The New Press, 1998) and author of articles on race, feminism, popular culture, and visual art. Her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropologyis a study of the consequences—both disabling and productive—of social science’s role in translating black writers into American literature.  Her current project grows out of her work as an advocate for human rights and prison abolition—Prison as a Border and Other Essays, on popular culture and the conditions of knowledge.  She has offered courses in critical race studies and black feminisms in Brazil (Universidade Federal da Bahia), Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Sweden (Linköping University) and lectures widely on these and other subjects. In June 2011, she was a member of a delegation of indigenous and women of color feminists to Palestine and speaks often from that experience.

Masterclass – The Idea of Africa

Time: 11:00 – 14:00
Location: University of Amsterdam, University Library – Doelenzaal. Singel 425, Amsterdam

This masterclass —the title of which is taken from V.Y. Mudimbe’s classic text of the same name—will focus on the epistemological consequences of anthropology’s role in producing an idea of Africa and responses to the legacies of slavery and colonialism in African-American popular history and memoir.

Readings include (in order of reading):

Sally Falk Moore, “Changing Perspectives on a Changing Africa: The Work of Anthropology” from Robert H. Bates, V.Y. Mudimbe, and Jean O’Barr, eds., Africa and the Disciplines: The Contributions of Research in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities, pp. 3-40.

V.Y. Mudimbe, “Introduction,” “Discourse of Power and Knowledge of Otherness,” and “E. W. Blyden’s Legacy and Questions” from Invention of Africa, pp. ix-xii, 1-23, 98-134.

Wilson Jeremiah Moses, “Introduction” and “Varieties of Black Historicism: Issues of Antimodernism and ‘Presentism’” from Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History, pp. 1-43.

Saidiya Hartman, from “Introduction,” “Afrotopia,” and “Lose Your Mother” from Lose Your Mother.

Optional: Rosalind Shaw, “Introduction” and “Chapter One: The Atlanticizing of Sierra Leone” from Memories of the Slave Trade, pp. 1-45

 Open to: MA and RMA students, PhD students, faculty, and people with reading experience in Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Critical Race Studies, African American Studies, Feminist Theory and/or Africana Studies. There are 5 spots for BA students with demonstrable interest in the topic.

Credits: RMA students can acquire 1 EC if they attend both the lecture and masterclass and complete all the preparatory readings.

Requirements: Participants are required to read and prepare all the readings before coming to the masterclass. The readings will be distributed about two weeks before the masterclass.

Registration: nica-fgw@uva.nlBA students are requested to write a short motivation.
NOTE: NICA members will have first access.


Lecture – Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology


Time: 16 May, 19:00 – 21:00
Location: Black Archives

In her lecture, Dent will present from her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke UP). The lecture examines questions of race, gender and geopolitics in the translation of black writers into American literature. With a specific focus on the productive and disabling role of the social sciences, anthropology in particular, in this act of translation, the lecture provides insight into black culture in the Diaspora and the conditions of knowledge production.

Registration Lecture: Tickets for the lecture can be reserved via the Black Archives –

We acknowledge with gratitude the support of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis, the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis Research Group: Transformations of Civil Disobedience: Democratization, Globalization, Digitalization and the Black Archives.