Provost’s Speaker Series on Systemic Racism

The potential for Black Studies programs in Canada

in collaboration with the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University

Date: October 23, 2020
Time: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm PST | 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST
Place: Webinar; the talk will be followed by a moderated Q&A.
Cost: Free, registration is required


Building Black Studies in Canada: Moving beyond Anti-Racism Courses

Andrea A. Davis, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, and Special Advisor on Anti-Black Racism Strategy, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University

Did Someone Say Black British Columbia? Rough Autobiographical Notes on Blackness and the Prospects of Black Studies at UBC

Handel Kashope Wright, Professor, Faculty of Education, and Director, Centre for Culture, Identity and Education, UBC Vancouver


Building Black Studies in Canada: Moving beyond Anti-Racism Courses

This talk considers the possibilities for the creation of Black Studies programs in Canada that reflect Canada’s unique position as a site of global Black diasporas, as well as historic Black communities going back 300 years. Challenging a growing trend in anti-racism courses and training, this talk will both draw on and critically expand existing practices and perspectives from the United States and UK.

By locating Black Studies within an interdisciplinary set of knowledges that center Black histories, philosophical thought, theoretical ideas, and expressive cultures, the lecture argues that Black life is a valuable area of study in and of itself.


Did Someone Say Black British Columbia? Rough Autobiographical Notes on Blackness and the Prospects of Black Studies at UBC

It is quite the journey from Africa where I was not Black to North America where I was interpellated into Blackness and to a present moment in Vancouver where I am particularly interested in the establishment of Black Studies in an environment in which Blackness is, paradoxically, both invisible and hypervisible. Blackness is a floating signifier for me even as it is fixed and natural and variously idealized, denied and denigrated by some others (Black/black and otherwise).

What has crystalized for me is a sense of the importance of, indeed an almost desperate need for, Black Studies at UBC, a Black Studies that would hold in tension a comprehensive Africana/Pan-Africa/Africa and its (sometimes double) diaspora on the one hand and a much needed focus on the ‘local’ – characterized by a triad of denial, erasure and forgetting. I concentrate somewhat on the conditions of the making of Black Studies at UBC- the nuts and bolts institutional characteristics that would stand in the way of and those that would facilitate such a project on both campuses.

About Professor Davis

Dr. Andrea A. Davis is an associate professor in Black Cultures of the Americas in the Department of Humanities at York University where she founded the Black Canadian Studies Certificate. She is currently Special Advisor on the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies’ Anti-Black Racism Strategies. She holds cross-appointments in the graduate programs in English; Interdisciplinary Studies; and Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies. Her research focuses on the literary productions of Black women in the Americas.

She is particularly interested in the intersections of the literatures of the Caribbean, the United States and Canada and her work encourages an intertextual cross-cultural dialogue about Black women’s experiences in diaspora. She has published widely in journals such as Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, and Social Justice; Canadian Woman Studies; Caribbean Review of Gender Studies; Journal of Canadian Studies; Journal of Education and Development in the Caribbean; and Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. She is the author of the forthcoming book Horizon, Sea, Sound: A Cultural Critique of the Nation (Northwestern UP).

About Professor Wright

Handel Kashope Wright is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education, UBC. He is co-editor of the University of Toronto book series African and Diasporic Cultural Studies, board member of several journals including Critical Arts, the European Journal of Cultural Studies and the Canadian Journal of Education and has published widely on Africana cultural studies, critical multiculturalism, anti-racism, curriculum theorizing and qualitative research, including the monograph A Prescience of African Cultural Studies (Peter Lang, 2004) and the co-edited books Transnationalism and Cultural Studies (Routledge, 2012),  Precarious International Multicultural Education (Sense, 2012) and The Promised Land: History and Historiography of the Black Experience in Chatham-Kent and Beyond (University of Toronto, 2014).

His community work includes membership on the Mayor of Vancouver’s Advisory Committee on Black History Month and the City of Vancouver’s External Advisory Committee on Equity and Diversity.  Prof. Wright’s forthcoming publications include two co-edited books on Black British Columbia (Fernwood) and The Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (University of Toronto Press, 2021).


Bryce Traister

Dean, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and Dean pro tem of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Professor of English

Opening & Closing Remarks will be provided by

Ananya Mukherjee Reed

Ananya Mukherjee Reed

Provost and Vice-President Academic UBC Okanagan and Professor in the Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science

UBC Okanagan Festival of Ideas