IU's Institute for Advanced Study to host NEH institute on 'Recasting Lives in African Cities'

A rare three-week institute that focuses on arts and culture in the cities of Accra Ghanna, Lagos Nigeria, Nairobi, Kenya, New Orleans, United States and Port-au-Prince, Haiti will be hosted this summer by the Institute for Advanced Study at IU.

“Arts of Survival: Recasting Lives in African Cities” takes place July 6-26 and will bring together 22 faculty and three graduate students from universities and colleges all across the United States.

Funded by a $191,592 National Endowment for Humanities grant, “Arts of Survival” will allow college and university teachers to explore modern urban culture and arts in cities that share African roots but have been shaped by interesting 

The goal is to examine interactions between art and everyday life in African and African diaspora cities, especially in post-catastrophe environments. New Orleans, for example, was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Port-au-Prince, suffered through a massive earthquake in 2010, according to an IU press release.

“Arts of Survival” is co-organized and co-directed by Eileen Julien and James Ogude.

Participants in the institute include three IU alumni. Mohammed Hirchi, originally from Morocco, has a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from IU and now teaches at Colorado State University.

“Africa is a global space that is impacted by colonial and post-colonial market economies,” Hirchi said in a press release. “I’m fascinated by how new identities are constructed and negotiated in African metropolises.”

“Arts of Survival” attendees also will participate in a weekend trip to New Orleans for an immersive experience in the life of an urban area with deep African roots.

Daily institute sessions are for enrolled participants only. But several opportunities are planned for the public, including film screenings July 10 and 24; a conversation with Julien on July 12 at the Mathers Museum about Mardi Gras, costumes and growing up in New Orleans; and a second conversation with other institute faculty July 2, according to a release.

Leo Smith

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