Co-sponsored by the Richards Civil War Era Center and the Africana Research Center, and organized by Dr. Maryam K. Aziz, Richards Center & African Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow, this Works-in-Progress Paper Symposium will be held virtually on Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29, 2022. The theme is “Histories of Healing: An Africana Symposium on Movement and Wellness.” African-descended folks in the Americas have always given serious thought to what activities and materials human beings need to live full lives. Developing strategies to heal and feel well, mentally and physically, reoccurred in Black community building and organizing during the 20th century. Considerations about how to thrive and find joy under systems of oppression centered diverse practices of body movement that were intimately connected to mental and spiritual wellness.
This symposium focuses on connecting scholars whose research provides new thoughts on histories of Black bodies in motion as healing. Practices of African- and Asian descended-movements proliferated the decades that preceded, encompassed, and followed the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Papers will flesh out how movement practices such as karate, yoga, diving, and bachata animated Black life while forcing practitioners to grapple with questions of Diaspora, U.S. cultural imperialism, racial formation, gender, and sexuality. Selected papers will move beyond theorizations of the “body” to explore the myriad ways that historicizing Black peoples’ attention to, and love of movement, captures the relationship of ease and embodiment to “Blackness.” Overall, this symposium aims to bridge the scholarly divide that can separate diverse movement practices and parse out the relationship between the written archive, the oral archive, and the archives inscribed in the techniques passed down in arts of movements.