African Independence Film Screening to Open Penn Africana Studies Conference

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460October 7, 2013

The University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Africana Studies and Center for Africana Studies are co-sponsoring an Oct. 17-18 conference on the future of Africana studies to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the department.

African Independence, a documentary film by Tukufu Zuberi, professor of sociology and Africana studies at Penn, will open the conference. Penn President Amy Gutmann will join Zuberi for brief remarks at 5 p.m. before the film screening begins in Harrison Auditorium of the Penn Museum, 3260 South St. A question-and-answer session will follow the screening.

“Africana Studies: Future of the Field” conference panel sessions will be held from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, in Claudia Cohen Hall, 239 S. 36th St.            

 “Penn has a rich tradition of scholarship, research and teaching in Africana Studies and has been a pioneer in the field, so our new department is a fitting achievement,” said Barbara Savage, professor and chair of Africana studies. “As leaders in the field, we are conferring with other eminent scholars to chart exciting new directions in the study of the peoples of Africa and of black people in the Americas and around the globe for the 21st century."       

 The multi-disciplinary conference, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Africana Studies Department and the Center for Africana Studies at Penn. The conference will be live-streamed at  Registration to attend the conference, film screening or both is available at      

Farah Jasmine Griffin, professor of English and comparative literature and African-American studies at Columbia University, will deliver the keynote speech.

Panels will be held on “Knowledge Production and the Fetish of Theory,” “Teleologies of Space, Place and Time,” “Gatekeeping and the Problem of Recognition” and “Black Body Politic.”

A reception will follow.                     

Zuberi’s film African Independence will have its Penn premiere at the conference. First screened at the 2013 San Diego Black Film Festival in January, it won the festival’s Best Documentary Film Award. Zuberi won the Best Director Award.                                          

African Independence is a feature-length documentary that explores the evolving story of Africa today, told through the lens of four watershed events: World War II, the end of colonialism, the Cold War and the era of African republics, all of which have redefined the continent once wracked by enslavement and shaped by European colonization.                                                                                                                         

The film is presented in conjunction with Zuberi's current Penn Museum exhibition, “Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” on view through March 2. Both the exhibit and film are part of Zuberi’s Africana Media Project based in the Center for Africana Studies.                                                                            

The conference and film screening are made possible by the Department of support from the Office of the President, Office of the Provost and School of Arts and Sciences at Penn. Further support for the film screening comes from the Center for Africana Studies, the Department of Africana Studies, the Penn Museum and other schools, centers and programs at Penn as well as the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs and Scribe Video Center.