Press Release: Carnegie Mellon's CAUSE Presents "Dark Reflections of Power: Black Performance Culture and the End of Subversion"-Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon's CAUSE Presents "Dark Reflections of Power: Black Performance Culture and the End of Subversion"

Lecture Celebrates Black History Month Themes That CAUSE Promotes Year-Round

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 / shilo@cmu.edu

BatistePITTSBURGH—African-American culture and identity are overwhelmingly associated with resistance to racial and national oppression. But award-winning author and former Carnegie Mellon University faculty member Stephanie L. Batiste will challenge this notion by arguing that early 20th century African-American artists, musicians, writers and other cultural producers were complicit with the United States' segregated and imperialistic power in order to feel included.

Batiste will present her theory in a lecture sponsored by Carnegie Mellon's Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE), titled "Dark Reflections of Power: Black Performance Culture and the End of Subversion." Her talk will be from 4:30 — 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21 in CMU's Steinberg Auditorium (Baker Hall A53).

"CAUSE and the Department of History are especially pleased with Stephanie's visit and lecture because her talk reinforces the month-long celebration of Black History themes at CMU and the larger Pittsburgh metropolitan region," said Joe Trotter, the Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice and director of CAUSE in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "When Stephanie was a member of the English Department's faculty, she actively supported CAUSE and gave a memorable presentation of her breathtaking, intense and moving one-woman show, 'Stacks of Orbit,' on the meaning of late 20th century street murders of young people of color in Los Angeles."

Batiste, now associate professor of English and Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, believes African-American concepts of national identity must be re-examined under the pretenses that they were created from an oppressed population. She contends that examining complicity with power broadens the concept of black humanity and complicates the understanding of how the oppressed use and manipulate the very tools that have defined their social exclusion. She also will explore the relationship between power and self-identification with a discussion of the Black western film "Two-Gun Man from Harlem."

Batiste's book, "Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression Era African American Performance," won the 2012 Modern Languages Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize. Her current project focuses on black performance, violence and death in millennial Los Angeles.

Trotter, a specialist in U.S. urban, labor and African-American history, founded CAUSE in 1995 to promote discussions, awareness and scholarly research on diversity-related topics that impact society.

"Carnegie Mellon in general and the Department of History in particular are excellent places to advance the ongoing production of knowledge on the intersections of African-American history, race, cities and the transformation of the U.S. economy, culture and politics," he said.

Trotter also noted that through innovative student recruitment and teacher training programs for faculty at historically black colleges and universities, CMU's Heinz College and Dietrich College spearheaded changes in both the racial complexion of higher education institutions as well as the content of research and instruction in the humanities and social sciences.

"CAUSE builds upon this legacy through its African-American speakers series, postdoctoral fellowship program and collaborative projects with other institutions like the Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate," Trotter said.

CAUSE, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the fall of 2015, holds events throughout the academic year. For more information, visit http://www.hss.cmu.edu/cause/.

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Former CMU faculty member Stephanie L. Batiste, (pictured above) believes African-American concepts of national identity must be re-examined under the pretenses that they were created from an oppressed population. Her book, "Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression Era African American Performance," won the 2012 Modern Languages Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize.