Hosted by the College of Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina

African Diaspora Circularities:
Forging Communities, Cultures, and Politics

November 4-7, 2015 Charleston, South Carolina


The African Diaspora is defined in great measure by the movement and circulation of African peoples, their cultures, and their ideas. African peoples in diaspora have created their own meanings and social-ideological geographies, forming new communities, dialogues and autonomous spaces within the global Black world and larger transnational communities. Whether it is the birth of Gullah culture in the Carolina Sea Islands from far-flung Atlantic colonial spaces or communities navigating the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class, African peoples have been generating circuits that constitute intertwined histories with increasing dialogue among each other.

ASWAD invites panel submissions for its 8th Biennial Conference that focuses on related themes of circulation/migration and the importance of locality/place in shaping the human experience of Africans and African descendants around the world. Contrary to the common misperception that forced migrations and related cultural circulations of Africans and their descendants are mostly themes of the past, the 2015 conference takes place in an age of unprecedented movement of ideas and people and still, for Africans and their descendants, circulation often occurs under circumstances of severe duress. As in the past, African descendants are creating new politics, cultures and communities within Africa and beyond that form the foundation for discourse and advocacy in human rights struggles and underlie the ongoing quest for cultural and political autonomy. ASWAD 2015 thus also seeks to generate dialogue about the inherent qualities of independent cultural production and community creation by African-descended people.

The theme of circularity invites presentations on the racial, gender, sexual, and class contours of migration and the meaning of place in the production of intellectual formulations, community formation, Pan-Africanism, and identity within Africa and its Diaspora that utilize diasporic feminist and black/ queer/diaspora frameworks. Additionally, circularities engage arenas of new technologies, media, and communication. ASWAD also encourages panels that explore circularities from scientific perspectives, highlighting such issues as the biological impacts of the global movements of African peoples, medicine and healing, and other biological and scientific research on Africa and its diaspora.

Attentive to our 2015 conference location in the South Carolina low country, the Gullah/Geechee communities and the Oyotunji (Yoruba/ Vodou) religious community in Beaufort County are examples from this region that demonstrate how specific geographies, economies, and patterns of migration have created distinctive new Black worlds and forged spaces of refuge and resistance. This region also reflects the significance of the Haitian Revolution in the process of slave resistance and therefore ASWAD particularly welcomes panels that explore music, dance, language, literature, religion, spirituality, politics, and economics in Gullah/Geechee communities and throughout the African Diaspora.

As an interdisciplinary organization, ASWAD invites presentations that illuminate the lives of Africans and African descendants from scholars in any discipline, including the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, and performing and visual arts.



Conference Registration

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  • ASWAD Members
  • Non-ASWAD Members
  • Institutional Members


Special Conference Events and Excursions

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We would like to share information with you about the cultural excursions that will be available during the conference. These activities will be held during periods when there are no other sessions, so conference participants can enjoy the site visits without missing conference presentations. The details are below. PLEASE NOTE: we will be asking folks to sign up for the excursions later in September, and more details about that process will soon follow.


Wednesday, November 4

Drayton Hall Plantation
Drayton Hall sign up:

Drayton Hall, built in 1738, is the oldest preserved plantation house that is open to the public. Following seven generations of Drayton family ownership, the house remains in nearly original condition and has never been modernized, providing an unmatched look at colonial living. Drayton Hall is also home to one of the country’s oldest African American cemeteries and the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust is dedicated to telling the stories of both the Europeans and the Africans who lived and labored on the plantation. At its height, the Drayton Hall plantation encompassed over 350 acres, and it served as the hub of the Drayton family’s massive commercial empire. The family eventually owned 100 different plantations totaling approximately 76,000 acres across South Carolina and Georgia where generations of enslaved Africans and Native Americans grew rice and indigo for exportation to Europe and reared cattle and pigs for shipment to the Caribbean sugar islands.

For more information about Drayton Hall and its commitment to preserving African American history, see here:


Friday, November 6th

Breaking Ground: Black British Writers US Tour
Free and Open to All Conference Registrants

Pre-Performance Reception: 6PM North Campus Room 110A
Performance: 7PM North Campus Room 110B and C

Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions presents this very special event featuring some of Britain’s most exciting literary talents. At this moment in the twenty-first century, Breaking Ground represents a thoughtful and imaginative way of presenting a positive Black British experience based on a spirit of collaboration and exchange. The ten tour writers are: Diran Adebayo, Jay Bernard, Bernardine Evaristo, Gabriel Gbadamosi, Colin Grant, Nick Makoha, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Johny Pitts, Roger Robinson and Warsan Shire.

For more information about the Tour:


Saturday, November 7

Sullivan’s Island Remembrance
Sullivan’s Island sign up:

Historians estimate that 40% of Africans who were brought to North America between 1619 and 1808 arrived through the port of Charleston. Sullivan’s Island, located just off the Charleston coast, served as a location where many Africans were held before making their final entry into the city. This painful history makes Sullivan’s Island a gateway through which many African Americans can trace their entry into America. During this excursion, conference participants will experience a Remembrance Ritual to honor the Africans who passed through Sullivan’s Island. The Remembrance Ritual will include a drum and dance procession, libation, and sacred words from local Yoruba priestess, Iya Helen Phillips. Participants are encouraged to wear white and bring small offerings for the ancestors including fruit and flowers. The ritual will include time for guided and silent mediation and words from those gathered about the importance of the occasion.


Sunday, November 8

Free Tour of Charleston for Conference Attendees
Contact Antonio Tillis: [email protected]

We are pleased and excited to announce that the City of Charleston is enthusiastically preparing for our arrival next week! In anticipation of our arrival, the Bureau of Tourism has just announced that they are willing to provide a free tour of Charleston to our conference attendees.

The tour focuses specifically on the history of Black Charleston and will be offered on Sunday, November 8 from 1:30-3:30pm. The tour will leave from the Crowne Plaza at 1:30pm on Sunday and return to the Crowne Plaza at 3:30pm. All interested persons should respond directly to Antonio Tillis at: [email protected]. This is a family friendly tour!

We realize that many folks will already be en route home on Sunday afternoon, but if anyone plans to linger in Charleston on Sunday we hope that you will take advantage of this amazing opportunity!

Explore Black Charleston

Beyond the formal tours that are included in the program, we encourage conference participants to explore and enjoy historic Charleston. For those who are interested in organized tours of Charleston from a Black perspective, please consider the Sites and Insights Black History tour. The Sites and Insights Tour company offers 1, 2, and 2 ½ hour motorized tours of greater Charleston, South Carolina from a Black perspective. All tours are conducted by licensed guides who are well versed in all aspects of Charleston history and deeply rooted in Gullah culture. Whether you are a first time visitor to Charleston or an ardent history buff, you will learn of the rich black history that has helped shape modern-day Charleston.

For more information see here:


Refund Policy

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Registration Fees for paper presenters are non-refundable. Other attendees who are unable to attend the conference can receive a registration refund if a cancellation request is made in writing. Refund requests must be received in writing at: [email protected] no later than October 1, 2015. There will be a 25% processing fee withheld from all refunds submitted by the deadline. Members anticipating disruptions in travel may wish to consider travel insurance.


Of Special Note in 2015:

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The Charleston, South Carolina Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture will be celebrating its 150th anniversary with the theme “On Our Own Terms.” We also invite panels that consider this and related themes.

ASWAD will be celebrating its 15th anniversary during the 2015 conference and invites panels that consider the field of African Diaspora Studies, future trends and areas of interest. We will also feature an ASWAD Special Panel on “Methodologies, Epistemologies, and Pedagogies in African Diaspora Studies” as well as “Mentoring for our Future.”

Our conference program begins with concurrent Mentoring Sessions on the first day: 1) “Mentoring for Graduate Students” and 2) “Mentoring for Post-doctorate and Junior Faculty.” Graduate students who wish to participate in these sessions are encouraged, although not required, to be panelists during the conference. Like other participants, all participants in the Mentoring Sessions must be registered conference participants. Deadlines for registration to participate in Mentoring Sessions coincide with other Program Committee deadlines noted below.


Instructions for Submission of Proposals

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ASWAD’s Program Committee strongly prefers whole panel proposals rather than individual submissions. Panel submissions will be given priority in the review process. Beginning October 13, 2014, the Program Committee will receive Panel Proposals of no more than 200 words for thematic panels consisting of three or a maximum of four speakers, including a possible discussant. Proposals must also include paper abstracts of no more than 150 words and bios of no more than 50 words for each presenter. All participants must be members of ASWAD in good standing at the time of confirmation for participation. The Call For Papers will close January 12, 2015 and acceptance notification is anticipated for February 16, 2015. Confirmation of attendance and paid conference registration are both required by April 1, 2015.

For a list of potential panel topics, click here. /sample-panel-themes-for-the-2015-conference

Kindly submit panel/paper abstracts to:

Graduate Students/Post-Doctoral Scholars and Junior Faculty who wish to participate in the Mentoring Sessions should also register via the conference website: This must be completed no later than the close of the CFP on January 12, 2015.


Accommodations/Hotel Reservations:

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Conference Sessions will be held at the College of Charleston. Blocks of rooms have been reserved at three area hotels, but availability will diminish quickly. Please see the hotel information below. In order to receive the discounted rate, participants should either call the hotel directly and use the code “ASWAD,” or follow the instructions below to make reservations online. Participants must make reservations by October 4, 2015.

PLEASE NOTE: The Crowne Plaza hotel is the main conference hotel, and the Fairfield Inn is located immediately next door. The Residence Inn is a short distance away, and is composed primarily of suites with full kitchens, so those units are best for colleagues who are traveling with their families.

Crowne Plaza Charleston
4381 Tanger Outlet Blvd
North Charleston, SC 29418
To make a reservation, follow the link below and enter the group code: ASW
Rate: $139

Fairfield Inn and Suites
4841 Tanger Outlet Blvd
North Charleston, SC 29418
To make a reservation, follow the link below:

Rate: $139

Residence Inn
5035 International Blvd
North Charleston, SC 29418
To make a reservation, follow the link below:^CHSNO%60ASDASDQ|ASDASDU|

Rate: $159



CONFERENCE HOUSING UPDATE: If you are interested in finding a roommate or making other arrangements for sharing accommodations for the 2015 Conference in Charleston, you may wish to contact the following Google Group which was created by several conference participants:!forum/aswad-2015-accommodations

This group is not monitored by ASWAD and all questions about room sharing should occur within the group forum. ASWAD cannot answer room sharing questions via the main conference email.

Disclaimer: Room sharing arrangements are the responsibilities of the individual parties involved. The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) expressly disclaims any responsibility regarding roommate matches and any potential disputes that may arise as a result of participation in the sharing forum or group. ASWAD will post the link to the sharing forum or group but does not (a) screen participants, (b) make determinations as to the appropriateness of any resulting room share, or (c) represent that any room share will prove to be satisfactory to the participants. ASWAD in no way makes any recommendations for or endorsements of any specific roommate arrangements. In participating in the posted room share discussion, you acknowledge that ASWAD expressly disclaims any liability for any damage, loss of property, or injury that may arise from participating in the sharing forum or group.


We look forward to a stimulating group of ASWAD panels in Charleston, South Carolina, November 4-7, 2015.


Program Committee:

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  • Laura Rosanne Adderley, co-chair
  • Elisa Joy White, co-chair
  • Yvonne Daniel
  • Jualynne E. Dodson
  • Maha Maraoun
  • Deborah Thomas


Local Arrangements Committee:

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  • Antonio D. Tillis
  • Margaret Washington


Conference Inquiries (other than proposal submission):
[email protected]

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