Title: Reimagining Jamaica’s National Heroine Queen Nanny – Countering Misogynoir and Racist Narrative Using the Visual & Performing Arts on island of Jamaica.
Speaker: Leo R. Douglas (NYU Liberal Studies)
Date: October 5, 2023
Time and Place: 6:00-8:00 pm. King Juan Carlos Center Room 324
Abstract: The Reimaging Nanny Project was developed for Jamaica’s 60th year of independence in 2022. The project questions and presents a reexamination of the lived experiences of early Afro-Caribbean people within the context of historical African eco-spirituality and folklore. The commissioned visual and performing arts works simultaneously acknowledge relationships between enslaved Africans with the indigenous first peoples of the region, and past and present Pan-African struggles for land, liberation and the survival of ancestral bio-cultural ways of being and knowing.
From the Ceiba Silk Cotton Trees and Cacoon (Entada rheedii) seed-pods to the endemic Caribbean Coccyzus Cuckoos, the commissioned works both illustrate and suggest how early Africans projected their knowledge and rememberings of Africa onto and into the “New World.” Such African retentions/continuations still enrich the lives of Afro-descendant peoples today. This Reimaging Nanny Project celebrates and centers the spirits and spirituality of the oppressed, and calls on the viewers to join in a collective decolonial remembering, while raising questions about race, gender, sexuality and religion in relation to what membership within the nature conservation movement means for present-day Afro-descendant people.
Bio: Leo Douglas is a Clinical Associate Professor at Liberal Studies in the School of Arts & Sciences, New York University (NYU). He received his Ph.D., a Masters of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, and an Advanced Environmental Policy Certificate from Columbia University. His Ph.D. research examined social conflicts about native Caribbean Amazona parrots and their conservation. He is a past-president of BirdsCaribbean, the largest single international NGO focusing on biodiversity in the Caribbean region, and he served on the board of BirdsCaribbean for 14 years, nine of those years as either President or Vice-President of the organization. His previous professional experiences include work as the Executive Director of the NGO BirdLife Jamaica, and a project manager for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID-Jamaica) Sustainable Watershed Management Project. He is a former Fulbright OAS Ecology Scholar, Government of Jamaica Millennium Scholar, Musgrave Medal Winner - for Distinguished Eminence in the Field of Science, a Partners in Flight (PIF) Leadership Award Winner - for Outstanding Contribution to Bird Conservation, a 2021 NYU Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award recipient and a 2022 NYU Faculty Fellow in Residence. Both his academic and NGO work and interests focus on the intersections of blackness, biodiversity and environmental education. Beyond academic scholarship his public outreach and advocacy includes documentary-making and the curation of both visual and performing arts-works designed to enhance public education about birds and the love of nature.
About the Working Group on Racisms in Comparative Perspective:
In this new/old political context, discussions about race and racisms have exploded. Postraciality and the multicultural rights frame are being challenged at the core and more intensely than ever before, glimpses of proto-fascist policies and actions are on the rise.
As a working group which is part of the larger Red de Investigacion Accion Antiracista en las Americas (RAIAR), we want to continue contributing to the debate on how best to fight against this emergent racist/classist backlash. Created in 2010 by Pamela Calla (Clinical Associate Professor) and Carmen Medeiros (CLACS Faculty Fellow, 2008-2010), this working group and presenters provide current and forthcoming analyses of race and racism in the Americas. Coordinated by Pamela Calla, the group has now hosted 53 sessions, and it continues challenging itself to put cutting edge research and analysis into creative anti-racist academic and activist use.
Note on Accessibility:
This event is free and open to the public with RSVP. The building has a wheelchair ramp and elevator. For any questions or to notify us of additional accommodation requests, please email clacs@nyu..edu at least a week prior to the event.