The Second Conference Day: An Overview

After an exciting, and long, first day at Lisbon’s Nova University, the second day of the conference, Saturday 24, brought just as many interesting and engaging panels and conversations. This post will introduce you to all of the interesting presentations that were given on the second day, including the second panel by students from our group. Keep an eye on the blog for a more in-depth recap of our own presentations, including photos and videos, which will be posted soon.

Lisbon Audience 2
Everyone is listening intently to the intriguing presentations of the second day.

Panel 8: Photographing the Civil Rights Movement

The first panel of the second day started off with a presentation by Maria José Canelo from the University of Coimbra. She analyzed (iconic) photographs of the Black Lives Matter movement by applying notions of visuality and counter-visuality, ultimately comparing it to the depictions of the Civil Rights Movement in photographs.

Lisbon Canelo panel 8
Maria José Canelo presenting on BLM photography.

The second and third presenter of the panel were both from Nova University Lisbon. First, Sheila Brannigan spoke on the reading of Civil Rights Movement photographs in the context of power relations and representation. After that, Susana Costa introduced the audience to the Scurlock Studio, which was a photo studio in Washington DC during the 20th Century, and explained, how it created a sense of collective cultural memory and legacy in the African American community.

Panel 9: Rainbows of Protest

This panel was held at the same time as the 8th panel on photography. The first presenter was Alejandra Marchevsky from California State University. She spoke on the coalition of Chicana and Black women for welfare rights in Los Angeles during the civil rights era, and the potential, multi-racial coalitions still hold today.
The second presenter was Ewa Scibior from the University of Warsaw, who analyzed the books Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin, and Dancer from the Dance, by Andrew Holleran, both published in 1978, which were among the most popular 1970s gay-novels. She looked at the way the authors created a sense of belonging in the gay community, and how the books were used to introduce newcomers into the scene.
The last presenter on this panel was Joana Marques from Nova University Lisbon, who talked about the Asian American public and political experience in Chang Rae-Lee’s novel Native Speaker (1995). Marques analyzed the text regarding the ways, in which the Asian American community is blocked from visibility and power in the American society, and the desire of minorities for political representation.

Keynote: “Do we ever wonder if black men dream?” – Representations of Martin Luther King in Literature

After a short coffee break, Isabel Caldeira from the University of Coimbra addressed everyone in a keynote on Martin Luther King’s depiction in the novels Dear Martin (2017), by Nic Stone and Dreamer (1998), by Charles R. Johnson.

Lisbon Isabel Caldeira
Isabel Caldeira analyzing the role of MLK in the novel Dear Martin.

In the first novel by Nic Stone, high school senior Justyce McAllister experiences police brutality first hand and, in the aftermath, starts writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr.. In these journal entries, the teenager hopes the civil rights leader will help him navigate the problems around him. The young-adult text discusses the problems of racism and racial injustice, while showing how today’s youth can relate to MLK.
The 1998 novel Dreamer by Charles R. Johnson discusses the last two years of Martin Luther King Jr. in a fictional portrait of his life. It introduces Chaym Smith, a MLK look-alike, who is trained to function as a stand-in at certain events and adds to the mystery surrounding the death of Martin Luther King Jr..

Panel 10: #BlackLivesMatter and the Aesthetics of Protest (II)

After this fascinating keynote, it was finally time for our second group of presenters from Munich to take the stage in the third panel of the day. Read more about Sophia Hoerl and Stephanie Matthias’ presentation on art, activism and the BLM movement, and Milica Cortanovacki and Melina Haberl’s discussion of police brutality and judicial injustice in the tv series Orange Is The New Black in our next post!

Lisbon Panel 2 alle 2
From left to right: Stephanie Matthias, Sophia Hörl, Milica Cortanovacki and Melina Haberl.

Panel 11: Legacies: Past to Present

The 11th panel was held at the same time as the panel with our students and discussed legacies in the African American context. The first presenter, Martin Fernandez Fernandez, from the University of Santiago de Compostela, spoke on Emmett Till’s legacy. She sees his death as one of the core elements connecting the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The second presenter of the panel, Ayman Al Sharafat, from Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, discussed the roots and legacy of the American Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the lens of civil rights and the Women’s Rights Movement. He analyzed sources from psychology, history, political science, and legal perspectives to provide a broader picture of the legislation.
The last presenter of the panel, Francis Gourrier, from Kenyon College in the United States, analyzed the rarely discussed topic of Civil Rights husbands and the Black Freedom movement as a family affair. Gourrier spoke on the role of the husbands, who were much less visible than their political activist wives, and their domestic responsibilities.

Panel 12: Women’s Voices

After lunch, the next panel included four interesting presentations on topics regarding women’s roles in civil rights movements. The first presenter, Isabel Oliveira Martins, from Nova University in Lisbon, spoke on the role of memory and female friendship in Toni Morrison’s only short story, “Recitatif” (1983). Martins sees memory as a fundamental aspect when writing about the African American situation in the United States and explained the term of “national amnesia”, which Morrison coined.
The second presenter of the panel was Natalia Telega-Soares, also from Nova University. She analyzed Assata Shakur’s autobiography Assata: An Autobiography, from 1988, regarding its aspiration to render women’s contribution to black revolution visible and free it of political and cultural distortions. Telega-Soares looked closely at how both bodily and mental freedom are presented in Shakur’s story.
The third presenter of the panel was Biljana Oklopcic, from the University of Osijek in Croatia. She spoke on Alice Walker’s short stories about women in both the civil rights era and after. Oklopcic analyzed, in how far these stories reflect on the women’s involvement, or lack thereof, and how they manage to give a voice to these women.
The fourth, and last presenter of the panel was Leticia García Barreiro, from the University of Santiago de Compostela. She analyzed the novels Dessa Rose (1990), by Sherley Anne Williams, and Can’t Quit You Baby (1988), by Ellen Douglas, in regard to the topic of putting up resistance through interracial friendships. Barreiro spoke on the creation of a safe space through these bonds and how the existence of such a friendship can be seen as a protest in itself.

Panel 13: Discourses on Activism

The sixth panel of the day started off with a presentation by Diana Almeida, from the University of Lisbon. She looked at the Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro from 2016, and analyzed it regarding the temporary validity of James Baldwin’s comments on race and the situation of African Americans today.
The second presenter, Horst Tonn, from the University of Tuebingen, spoke on race and rights in Richard Power’s novel The Time of Our Singing (2003). The scholar specifically looked at the relationship between history and the fictional characters, and how historical context confines and/or energizes human agency.
The last presenter of the group was F. Angelo Camufingo, from the University of Potsdam. He spoke on Afro-Past, Afro-Present and Afro-Future, and the continuing protest of African Americans in the United States. Camufingo also explained his own activism as an artist in the field of Afrofuturism, and how such aesthetics can be seen as a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement.

Panel 14: African American Speculative Fiction

In the second to last panel of the second conference day, three presenters from Nova University in Lisbon spoke on the works of African American authors. The first scholar, Beatriz Almeida Santos, analyzed Ocatvia E. Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred regarding the ability to transport its readers into the Antebellum South and bringing them closer to the emotional effects of slavery and racism. Santos argued that, by using emotional distress and graphic imagery, Butler counters the current desensitization of the subject matter and triggers an emotional response from her readers.
The second panellist was Rui Mateus, who spoke on N. K. Jemisin’s Afrofuturist trilogy Broken Earth and the societal structures of the alternate universe it is set in. Mateus analyzed the cultural clash portrayed in the novel and how the ideas discussed in Jemisin’s book play an important part in envisioning a brighter future for black people.
The last presentation was given by Jéssica Fortunato, who talked about Ishmael Reed’s 1976 novel Flight to Canada. She analyzed how the author uses satire and the disregard for historical facts as a means to reclaim African American power. Furthermore, Fortunato connected the events of the American Civil War, as depicted in the novel, with the Civil Rights Movement and more recent examples of black protest, like the Black Lives Matter movement.

Panel 15: Global Influences of the Civil Rights Movement

In the very last panel of the conference in Lisbon, two scholars presented novels, which have been influenced by the CRM. Mateusz Kucab, from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, talked about the representation of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Polish drama. He used Adam Mickiewicz’s 1882 romantic drama Forefather’s Eve as an example, and explained, how it presents the problems of freedom and human independence. Kucab then picked specific scenes from a famous adaptation of the play, directed by Radoslaw Rychcik, in which the Polish nation is presented as a black nation and one character gives a rendition of MLK’s famous speech. The scholar analyzed the mechanism used in the play to demonstrate the universal need for human rights.
The second, and last, presenter of the panel was Alice Carletto, from Nova University in Lisbon. She talked about the concept of “learning blackness in America”, as presented in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2013 novel Americanah. By analyzing key scenes of the novel, Carletto described problems regarding racism and identity, which the African American community in the United States is facing today.

And now…

We hope you enjoyed this recap of day two, which was filled with so many interesting and engaging presentations and discussions. If you have read our last couple of posts, you might get the gist of what experiencing the Dikes of Courage was like for us as participants. And because the impressions were so enormous, both in number and in magnitude, do come back to this blog and read our next posts, in which we will dissect our experience further. See you soon!

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