Northwestern awards $225,000 for seminar series on archiving black arts

Amy Li, Campus Editor

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Northwestern a $225,000 Sawyer Seminar grant to convene international scholars for a series of seminars titled “The Black Arts Archive: The Challenge of Translation.”

The University is in the process of planning three transnational seminars and a summer institute for next academic year. The award will also fund fellowships for two graduate students and one postdoctoral student, and will count towards Northwestern’s “We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.”

‘”The Black Arts Archive” Sawyer Seminars are aimed to explore the challenges presented by “disciplinary, political-economic and geographical contexts” in documenting a history of black art production, according to a University release. They’ll “seek to create models redressing concerns around archival access and translation,” the release said.

The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars provides support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments and aims to engage scholars in comparative research that would otherwise, in ordinary university circumstances, be difficult to pursue.

The project will be led by Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies E. Patrick Johnson.

“Given the current global political climate, it is imperative that black arts social movements be documented in a systematic way and that these archives be made accessible — across artistic forms — to constituents in the African diaspora,” Johnson said in the release.

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