LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas will launch its 2019-2020 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar series, “Chronic Conditions: Knowing, Seeing & Healing the Body in Global Africa,” with a talk by award-winning documentary photographer Yagazie Emezi at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3 at the Kansas Union.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Sawyer Seminar program supports comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. KU’s seminar will convene an interdisciplinary group of scholars for 12 public lectures, performances and other events led by visiting scholars and artists from around the world. Events will occur at the KU Lawrence campus as well as KU Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina.
Emezi is an artist and self-taught documentary photographer from Aba, Nigeria, whose work focuses on stories surrounding African women and their health, sexuality, education and human rights. Emezi is a recipient of the 2018 inaugural Creative Bursary Award from Getty Images.
The goal of the seminar is to develop new ways of thinking about the historical, social and political processes that have given rise to disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases among Africans, African immigrants and African Americans. Through a focus on communities that share African roots, the seminar will explore how legacies of slavery, colonialism, and segregation have rendered black bodies particularly vulnerable to misinterpretation, oppression and exploitation in medicine, public health and development initiatives.
The project, which was awarded $225,000 from the Mellon Foundation, is co-directed by Kathryn Rhine, associate professor of anthropology; Abel Chikanda, assistant professor of African & African-American studies and geography & atmospheric science; and Cassandra Mesick Braun, curator of global indigenous art at KU's Spencer Museum of Art; in partnership with the Kansas African Studies Center and the Hall Center for the Humanities.
“This series of lectures and performances demonstrates impressive interdisciplinary collaboration across the university," said Richard Godbeer, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities. "It will amplify the diverse voices of early career as well as more established scholars and artists. I could not be more excited about the fresh insights and new questions that these seminars will uncover.”
In addition to talks by visiting scholars and artists, the seminar will engage researchers and clinicians through two humanities-based labs. Lab participants will build online exhibits of digital objects, including podcasts and other multisensorial representations of their work. All KU faculty and advanced graduate students are invited to participate in these programs.
Details about KU’s Sawyer Seminar and a complete list of the public presentations are available online.
Images courtesy of Yagazie Emezi.