Photos from Diana Ferrus’ Performance Lecture

Diana Ferrus’ performance lecture was a success! Students, faculty, staff, and community members were deeply moved by her presence and her presentation.

FROM BROKEN BONES TO HEALING HEARTS: MY JOURNEY WITH SARAH BAARTMAN

Lecture & Performance by Diana Ferrus

Monday September 29, 2014
5pm – 7pm
Peter Graham Scholarly Commons

Diana Ferrus is an internationally-acclaimed South African poet, activist, and storyteller.  Her poem “I’ve come to take you home” for Sarah Baartman, a Khoi Khoi woman who was paraded in freak shows in 19th century Europe inspired the French Senate to vote unanimously to return Baartman’s remains to South Africa.   The poem is published in the French Law, a landmark in French history.  At her performance lecture, Diana Ferrus will trace the genealogy of her poem to Sarah Baartman, linking it to colonialism, apartheid, and the roots of the designation “Coloured” in South Africa.  She will read from her book I’ve come to take you home and discuss the significant impact the return of Sarah Baartman’s remains had on the people of South Africa.

CO-SPONSORS: Departments of Women’s & Gender Studies, Cultural Foundations of Education, African American Studies, Languages, Literatures, and Lingustics, and The Writing Program

View photos from the packed event in the slideshow below!

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DK Past Speaker Update Series – Dean Spade

Our Past DK Speaker Update series highlights the most recent and upcoming works of speakers DK has hosted in the past. Dean Spade came to Syracuse University April 1, 2013 to give his talk “Teaching the Politics of Occupation.” He sent this update with this photo with Reina Gossett and CeCe McDonald on the set of their video conversation.


Dean Spade, Cece McDonald, and Reina Gossett

Spade, McDonald and Gossett in conversation

In Fall 2013, Dean Spade co-convened a conference at Columbia Law School called “Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues,” convening activists and scholars to examine how philanthropic control and nonprofitization has narrowed the focus of LGBT politics over the last four decades. Click here to watch the panels.

Dean is currently working with the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) on a series of 30 videos that address the themes of the conference, to be released this fall.   Dean has also been collaborating with BCRW and Reina Gossett on some other video projects about criminalization and prison abolition. You can watch Dean’s conversations with Reina Gossett here and Dean and Reina’s conversations with CeCe McDonald here.  To read Dean’s recent writing, go to deanspade.net.


Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements.  

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Democratizing Knowledge Receives Mellon Grant

Exciting news! 

The Democratizing Knowledge Project (DK), a Syracuse University interdisciplinary collective of faculty and graduate students, has been awarded a four-year, $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a series of summer institutes titled Just Academic Spaces: Creating New Publics through Radical Literacies. Emphasizing the role of the university as a public good, the DK Project (formed in 2009) demonstrates the public value of university scholarship and fosters collaborative projects with community leaders and activists to improve local conditions in the public schools, the environment, public health and other areas.

The DK collective uses tools of the humanities such as public ethnography, documentary filmmaking, and critical pedagogy to learn how the framings by community activists of problems and challenges relating to the presence and impact of the university in the broader community constitute valuable forms of knowledge and latent political and ethical critiques that can and should be incorporated into curricula. We argue that these framings and representations which are perhaps unique to the overlapping and intersecting spaces between communities and universities are often ignored or subject to being dismissed by the academy because they don’t emanate from or serve the university’s interests. Instead DK scholars have built and promote a model for engagement with local communities that eschews the notion of the scholar as sole legitimate expert who, inevitably following academic-disciplinary protocols, dictates how problems can be “fixed” and they reject related understandings of universities as singular, pre-eminent sites for what can be known about problems and solutions. We contend that using the methods of critical pedagogy leads to a more democratic approach to community- university partnerships and can result in the constitution of community groups which, through collaborations with scholar-activists, become newly empowered to engage the university and their own community challenges on a more equitable footing.

The Democratizing Knowledge (DK) Summer Institute, Just Academic Spaces, will bring together faculty, advanced doctoral students and activist-scholars from the Humanities, and Social Sciences across the US to understand the current state of US higher education, explore productive dialogues between community organizations and activists, and scholar-activists in the academy and build collaborations and strategies to create a more just academy. The first Institute will be hosted by Syracuse University in 2016, followed by Rutgers University at Newark in 2017 and Spelman College in 2018. The 2016 Institute will feature local community projects such as La Casita Cultural Center, the Dunbar Center, and Art Rage Gallery – projects that produce social justice interventions, validate marginalized experiences, and create radical literacies to empower their communities.

Principal Investigators Linda Carty, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Dean’s Professor of the Humanities have long histories of bridging activism and scholarship. Both have published extensively on topics of race, feminism, labor, politics of knowledge and U.S. higher education, and are currently engaged in multiple collaborative scholar-activist projects.

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