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Welcome to the blog of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Department is an intellectual, professional, and social community which stands at the forefront of national, global education and research on people of African descent in the United States and the African world. Please browse our main web site to learn more about our academic programs.  In this blog we will explore the past, present, and future of the intellectual work of the department. Herein we will also share news of upcoming events as well as create an archive and a forum for discussion of those events.

A Luta Continua.


Black Studies in the Americas beyond the U.S.
A Roundtable on Epistemological and Political Challenges

Audiofiles: 34th Annual Meeting of the National Council for Black Studies
Fri, March 19, 2010 – 2:00pm – 3:15pm: Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
Session Participants:
Presenter: Izielen Agbon (independent Scholar)
Presenter: Joseph Jordan (Department of African and Afro-American Studies UNC-Chapel Hill)
Presenter: Agustin Lao-Montes (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
Presenter: Aurora Vergara-Figueroa (Department of Sociology University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Discussant: Amilcar Shabazz (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
This session explores the epistemological and political challenges affecting the emergence of Black Studies in the Americas, especially the Caribbean, Central and South America. Panelists spoke to their own research and/or development work in global South (especially in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean) as well as a recently organized action-research consortium to assess the status of racial inequality, the current state of racial politics, and the efficacy (or lack thereof) of racial policies pertaining to blacks in the Latin American region and, comparatively, in the Americas as a whole. The inter-institutional, inter-American consortium, with its connections to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and its follow-up Durban Review process, has an applied research agenda aimed at identifying enduring obstacles to overcoming racism in the Américas including a focus on assessing the nature of and issues facing Black Studies in the region.


Aurora Vergara-Figueroa is a Ph.D. student in Sociology and Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also a member of GAUV- Grupo Afrocolombiano de la Universidad del Valle, has actively worked to advance Afro-Columbian Studies in her native Colombia. She is now a doctoral student in Sociology and Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she is an active member of the Black Cultures and Racial Politics in the Americas Research Working Group.

Joseph Jordan‘s research focuses on the interaction of art, politics and culture in the African diaspora. His recent work includes: “Afro-Colombia: A Case for Pan-African Analysis” (book chapter) in Transnational Blackness: Navigating the Global Color-Line, Critical Black Studies Series (2008); “Globilizacíon y Derechos de Propiedad Intelectual: Problemas y Perspectivas,” /Política Exterior y Soberania. Publicacíon Trimestral del Instituto de Altos Estudios Diplomáticos ‘Pedro Gual’ ,/Julio-Septiembere 2007; “Cabral, Solidarity and the African Diaspora in the Americas” (book chapter) in /Cabral no Cruzamento de Épocas: Comunicações e Discursos  Produzidos no II Simpósio Internacional Amílcar Cabral/, (2005); “The Call of Revolution: The Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1970’s” (book chapter) in No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists, 1953-2002, Africa World Press (2007). He also has a chapter entitled: “Every Little Bit Hurts: Paul Gilroy, Moral Panic, and the Soundtrack of Globalisation,” in /The Paul Gilroy Reader, /UNC Press (Forthcoming). He is a professor in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies UNC-Chapel Hill

Agustin Lao-Montes is a Professor of Sociology, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, and Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and his fields of specialty include: world-historical sociology and globalization, political sociology (esp. social movements, & sociology of state and nationalism), social identities & social inequalities, sociology of race and ethnicity, urban sociology/community-universit partnerships, African Diaspora and Latino Studies, sociology of culture and cultural sudies, and contemporary theory and postcolonial critique.His publications include /Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York City/ edited volume,co-editor with Arlene Davila), Columbia University Press, 2001; /Technofuturos: Critical Interventions on Latino Studies/. (volume co-edited with Nancy Mirabal, 2007); /Global Hegemony, States, and Antisystemic Movements: Politics and the Political in the Late Modern World-System/ (volume co-edited with Joya Misra, 2007); and /World-Cities and World-Regions://New Constellations of Political, Economic, and Cultural Power/ (volume co-edited with Ramon Grosfoguel, 2007).

Izielen Agbon is an energy economist and petroleum engineer who has spent the past decade in Venezuela. Originally from Nigeria, he came to study in the U.S. during the 1970s, and first encountered the Black Studies movement. He completed his dissertation “Class and Economic Development in Nigeria, 1900-1980: Plans, Struggle, Workers, Peasants” at The University of Texas at Austin in 1985. In addition to his continued efforts to create an analytical framework within which the relationships among the State, social classes and Foreign Capital in Nigeria can be examined, he joins the other panelists in theorizing and analyzing the “worlding” of Black Studies.

Amilcar Shabazz conducts historical research with an emphasis on the political economy, social and cultural movements, education, and heritage preservation and representations of African people. His book Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), received numerous honors including the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award and being ranked a top ten nonfiction book by Essence Magazine. His newest book, co-edited with Celia R. Daileader and Rhoda E. Johnson, is Women & Others: Perspective on Race, Gender, and Empire (Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2007). Shabazz has also published The Forty Acres Documents, a sourcebook on reparations, along with journal articles, book chapters, reviews and writings in publications as diverse as The Source Magazine of Hip-Hop Music, Culture & Politics. An international scholar, he is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and has done work in Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Cuba, Mali, France, Nicaragua, and Jamaica. Presently, he is completing an historical biography entitled “Master of the Blast: Carter Wesley the Revolutionary Pragmatist.”




  • The Black International as a frame to be infused in our Black/Africana Studies curriculum
  • Hemispheric Blackness
  • Comprehensive model of action; how will this model impact Black/Africana Studies?
  • More educational partnerships


The need to rethink and redefine the field : geneaology – three moments in a long history

  1. 1920s Arturo Schomberg—head of Negro Studies Academy
  2. 1940 Afro-America journal published in Mexico (2 volumes)
  3. 1st Congress of Black Cultures in the Americas in 1977 in Cali
  4. Critical (critique of domination linked to struggle for liberation) Africana Studies—decolonization of knowledge and power} Black politics/power/studies
    1. Age of Revolution
    2. Negritude
    3. 1960s/1970s
    4. Today
    5. Critical (critique of domination linked to struggle for liberation) Africana Studies
      1. The Coloniality of Power (Anibal Quijano) – world historical regime of power: racism, capitalism, patriarchy, 4 (Anthony Pogue) – heretics/prophets
      2. The need to see the traditions Radical Pan-Africanism/Radical African Feminism
      3. Durban Conference and Post-Durban Process (N->S)
      4. N-S dialogue and partnerships (both US-centrism/Bordieu position must be thrown out)
      5. Recommendations:
        1. Convene a conference on Black Studies in the Americas
        2. Develop a research agenda: Mapping the movements
        3. Institutional and programmatic goals
        4. Dialogue and publications
        5. A political agenda – Diaspora as a project of liberation and decolonization


  • Black Studies is a product of struggle—if it doesn’t regenerate itself it dies
  • “The study of people of African Descent” :: The definition covers what we studies
  • How are they circulating the struggle? What are the methods? The global future at all times.
  • Consider a study that keep time constant and let location vary (e.g., 1960-1980: What are the children of Africa doing?)
  • Two foci: 1. Black movements (young people insist on African studies) ; 2. Databank


PowerPoint presentation.