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Pryor Center Presents Caree A. Banton – Elections and Identity Politics: Interrogating Group Belonging in Black and White Republics
The Pryor Center Presents spring lecture series hosted by the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History concludes with 'Elections and Identity Politics: Interrogating Group Belonging in Black and White Republics' presented by Caree A. Banton, Associate Professor of African Diaspora History and the Director of the African and African American Studies Program.

The 1903 Liberian presidential election left many with a lingering question: “Who is this man and from whence comes he to rule?” What many deemed as odd was that the newly elected leader had “come not from the land of our forefather’s nativity to fill that exalted post of the executive chair.” The new president, Arthur Barclay, though also Black like his predecessors, had migrated to Liberia in 1865 from Barbados rather than the USA.

This is hardly the only instance where elections have raised these questions. Across the Atlantic World, the cultural pathologies around identity politics tend to emerge at the height of political campaigning. That questions about Barack Obama’s and Kamala Harris’ heritage emerged in their campaigns highlights the ways in which race, ethnicity, origins, and indigeneity has shaped public discourse about identity politics. These upheavals expose long-standing fractures around race, class, national, religious, and gender identities whose social and historical meanings are still unfolding.

Banton received an MA in Development Studies from the University of Ghana and completed her doctoral work at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on movements around abolition, emancipation, and colonization as well as ideas of citizenship, blackness, and nationhood in the 19th century. Banton's book, "More Auspicious Shores: Barbadian Migration to Liberia, Blackness, and the Making of the African Republic", was published by Cambridge University Press in May 2019.

Apr 21, 2021 06:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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