Speaker Series

Explore the presentations from the From Slavery to Freedom Speaker Series below.

The lab’s distinguished guests have included: Dr. Hazel Carby, Dr. Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Dr. France Winddance Twine, Dr. Deborah Willis, Dr. Tina Campt, and Dr. Tracy Sharpley-Whiting. Presentations are listed in chronological order.


Hazel Carby | Where Are You From?

October 10, 2018

This lecture is an account of how a young black girl, growing up in South London, had to learn to negotiate the racial fictions of post World War Two Britain. It will be drawn from Dr. Carby’s forthcoming book, Imperial Intimacies (Verso 2019).

HAZEL CARBY is Charles C. & Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies & American Studies and the Director of the Initiative on Race, Gender, and Globalization at Yale University. Born in postwar UK, trained at the University of Birmingham under Stuart Hall’s mentorship, she is a foundational scholar of US black feminist intellectual history. Her books include Reconstructing Womanhood (1987), Race Men (1998), and Cultures in Babylon (1999). She was named the 2014 recipient of the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies.


Robert F. Reid-Pharr | What We Dare Not Remember—Jonestown and the “Mattering” of Black Life

November 15, 2018

Dr. Reid-Pharr asks, why, in a period in U.S. history in which questions of Black life and Black death are at the center of our public debates, have so few intellectuals taken up the matter of the 918 individuals, most of whom were African American, who died in a mass suicide in “Jonestown,” Guyana in 1978? Reading the details of the events against works of fiction and poetry by Wilson Harris and Pat Parker, Reid-Pharr asks how we might develop new forms of memorialization that name—and value—both the victors and the victims, the noble and the vulgar.

ROBERT F. REID-PHARR is Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. A specialist in African American culture and a prominent scholar in the field of race and sexuality studies, he is the author of four books: Conjugal Union: The Body, the House, and the Black American, Oxford University Press, 1999; Black, Gay, Man: Essays, New York University Press, 2001; Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual, New York University Press, 2007; and Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post Humanist Critique, New York University Press, 2016. His research and writing have been supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His writing has been honored by the Publishing Triangle and the Modern Language Association. In 2015 he was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars and he is the recipient of a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

Listen to Dr. Reid-Pharr in conversation with Mark Anthony Neal on the “Left of Black” webcast: Left of Black S9: E15: Robert Reid-Pharr on Aging, Living Life as an Intellectual and the of Black Queer Studies


France Winddance Twine | Digging Up the Past: Race & Class in Brazil

October 23, 2018

The From Slavery to Freedom Lab welcomed France Winddance Twine on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the publication of her book, “Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil.” Dr. Twine reflected on intersectionality and racial, gender, and class politics in Brazil and the future of Brazilian Studies.

FRANCE WINDDANCE TWINE is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is an ethnographer, a feminist race theorist, and a documentary filmmaker, whose research focuses on multiple dimensions of inequality. Twine’s research provides case studies for a nuanced analysis of the intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender inequality. Twine has conducted extensive field research on both sides of the Atlantic including: Brazil, Britain, and the United States. She is the author and editor of ten books including: Racism in a Racial Democracy; The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil; A White Side of Black Britain: Interracial Intimacy and Racial Literacy; Geographies of Privilege; Outsourcing the Womb: Race, Class, and Gestational Surrogacy in the Global Market; and Girls with Guns: Firearms, Feminism and Militarism. Drawing inspiration from John Hope Franklin’s path-breaking 1947 study, the “From Slavery to Freedom” Franklin Humanities Lab seeks to examine the life and afterlives of slavery and emancipation, linking Duke University to the Global South.

France Winddance Twine visited the lab again March 25–26, 2019 to present “Black and Latina Geek Girls” and “Ghana’s Electric Dreams.”


Deborah Willis | Picturing Us: The Work of Deborah Willis

March 1, 2019

Dr. Deborah Willis and Dr. Jasmine Cobb held a public conversation on Willis’s body of work since Picturing Us, including research examining photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of Slavery and Emancipation; contemporary women photographers and beauty.

DEBORAH WILLIS, Ph.D, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural, Africana Studies, where she teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender.


Tina Campt | Prelude to a New Black Gaze

March 7, 2019

What is a “black gaze”? The term is an both invitation and a provocation to reflect on our current moment of diasporic countervisuality. It is a paradoxical moment forged “in the wake” (Sharpe, 2017) of the afterlife of slavery  — a moment when we are inundated by images of precarious black life and antiblack violence, while simultaneously witnessing an ascendance of black aesthetics in the fine arts and in popular culture. This paradox provides the foundation for the emergence of a black gazeFocusing on the critical and creative ways black artists are repurposing the amateur visual archive of the black experience, the talk explores the new visual modalities they are creating to render and the radical possibilities they present for imagining different kinds of black futurity.

TINA CAMPT is Claire Tow and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Africana and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College-Columbia University. She is the author of three books: Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich (2004), Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe (2012), and Listening to Images (2017). She is a black feminist theorist of visual culture and contemporary art, and is completing a new collection of essays entitled, The New Black Gaze. Campt is currently in residence as Abigail R. Cohen Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, and was recently appointed as a Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tina Campt

Tina Campt, March 7, 2019 (Photo by Jennifer R. Zhou)


Tracy Sharpley-Whiting | The Other Americans

October 22, 2019

Drawn from Bricktop’s Paris and its exploration of black women expats in Paris, this talk explores the centrality of black women in our cultural imagination, despite their erasure, and Dr. Sharpley-Whiting’s own attempts to recover them, beginning with the volume, Black Venus.

TRACY DENEAN SHARPLEY-WHITING is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and French at Vanderbilt University where she directs the Callie House Research Center for the Study of Global Black Cultures and Politics and chairs the Department of African American Studies. She is author/editor of 15 books and three novels, the latest of which include the L’Harmattan French edition, “La Vénus hottentote: écrits, 1810 à 1814, suivi des textes inédits”; the co-edited “Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism” (2018) and “Sexualités, identité & corps colonisés: XVe siècle – XXIe siècle” (2019), and “Bricktop’s Paris: African American Women Expatriates in Jazz-Age Paris and The Autobiography of Ada Bricktop Smith, or Miss Baker Regrets”, a 2015 American Library in Paris Book Award Long List nominee and Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2015. She is currently working on a monograph, “Men I’d Like to Have Known.”