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The Africa Institute, Global Studies University (GSU) (Sharjah, UAE) – a center for research, documentation, and study of Africa and its diaspora – will host a two-day symposium celebrating the life and legacy of literary icon Toni Morrison on February 28-29, 2024, at The Africa Hall, in Sharjah. The program will also be recorded and shared on the institute’s YouTube channel.

Photograph by Deborah Feingold

This special event inaugurates the Toni Morrison Senior Fellowship in African Diaspora Literature and Cultural Studies, featuring two film screenings, including one by Morrison’s son, and insightful discussions on her legacy.

The symposium shines a spotlight on Morrison’s artistic genius through screenings of two powerful films. The Pieces I Am (2019 | 120 minutes) is directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, and offers an intimate exploration of Morrison’s life and work with interviews of renowned figures like Hilton Als, Angela Davis, and Oprah Winfrey. The Foreigner’s Home (2018 | 57 minutes) is directed by Rian Brown and Geoff Pingree, and produced by Ford Morrison, Toni Morrison’s son, The Foreigner’s Home delves into her 2006 Louvre exhibition, using exclusive footage and archival materials to illuminate her profound insights on race, identity, and the transformative power of art. Following each screening, invited scholars and critics will discuss Morrison’s artistic vision and its lasting impact.

The program will also highlight The Africa Institute’s recent launch of the prestigious Senior Fellowship in honour of Toni Morrison. The fellowship is aimed at supporting established scholars and independent thinkers who have made significant contributions to African and African Diaspora literature and cultural studies. The first recipient of this fellowship is Philathia Bolton, Associate Professor of English at The University of Akron, Ohio.

Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019), a Nobel Prize-winning author, was a literary trailblazer whose profound works redefined American literature and explored themes of identity, race, and the human experience with unparalleled depth and insight. Her legacy resonates as a powerful voice for social justice and cultural understanding.

Speakers during the event include:

Keynote Address
– Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies, Columbia University

Ford Morrison, Architect, Producer, Cinematographer, and son of Toni Morrison
Margo Crawford, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Riché Richardson, Professor of African American Literature, Cornell University
Manthia Diawara, University Professor of Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies, New York
Philathia Bolton, Associate Professor of English, The University of Akron, Ohio, and Inaugural Toni Morrison Senior Fellow, The Africa Institute, Global Studies University

For more information, please visit The Africa Institute.

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