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Andrew W. Mellon Lecture in the Humanities

James Baldwin’s Ambivalent Encounters with Africa

Online and In-Person

For many scholars of the African diaspora, the genre of travel writing represents a worldview largely informed by Western conquest and colonization. In this talk, Laila Amine critically assesses American writer James Baldwin’s encounters with West Africans and North Africans—described in essays he wrote between 1950 and 1972—to challenge a longstanding presumption: that Black writers in the US and Europe transcended the limits of travel-writing in order to stand in opposition to colonialist concepts of modernity. Not so with Baldwin, Amine argues, contending that his African essays demonstrate how his own travel and self-imposed exile implicate dislocated subjects in complex networks of power. In so doing, they are as likely to reassert Europe’s colonial and racial logics as to challenge them.

Participating in the Online Event:

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Attending in person:

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If you would like to attend this lecture in person at the American Academy in Berlin (Am Sandwerder 17-19, 14109 Berlin, Germany), please send a registration request to Kindly include your name, valid address, email address, and phone number. If you are registering more than one guest, please provide this information for them as well and indicate whether you are members of the same household.

Please note that we are only able to accommodate a small number of guests due to COVID-19 restrictions. Because of this, registrations for on-site events are currently limited to one registration per person per semester. Following your registration request, we will let you know as soon as possible whether you are able to join.

We kindly ask for your understanding that participation in person is only possible upon prior confirmation by the Academy’s program team.

06 Oct 20
19:30 - 21:00
Speaker: Laila Amine

This event took place on October 6, 2020.

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