Where Blackness Meets the Sea: Struggle and Possibility in the Black Mediterranean


Thursday, April 15, 2021


5:00 pm


Main Building Virtual Room 1

How can we understand Black thought and study from Italy and the Mediterranean more broadly? SA Smythe’s lecture narrates the dynamic concept of the Black Mediterranean as one possible way of comprehending Black life within and beyond the geographical space of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding African and European nation states. Smythe considers the necessity for another orientation for thinking Blackness and oceanic crossings. In this talk, they read literary contributions from Black Italian writers Igiaba Scego and Ubah Cristina Ali Farah as well as analyze the deaths of migrants and asylum seekers in Italy to trace a contemporary history of Europe’s racialized notions of citizenship and Black belonging in the wake of its self-initiated crises of migration and ongoing colonial logics of xenophobia, anti-blackness, and racial capitalism. This talk stems from Smythe’s forthcoming book project, Where Blackness Meets the Sea: On Crisis, Culture, and the Black Mediterranean, which examines the marginalized corpus of postcolonial and anticolonial East African and Black Italian writers from 1985 to 2020.

Dr. SA Smythe is a poet, translator, and scholar of Black European literary & cultural studies, contemporary Mediterranean Studies, and Black trans poetics. Smythe’s research is focused on literature and other cultural responses to racism, misogyny, colonialism, and other relational aspects of inequality and oppression between Europe (in particular, Italy), East Africa, and the Mediterranean. Smythe is assistant professor of Black European Studies and Black Trans Poetics in the Departments of Gender Studies and African American Studies at UCLA.

Sponsors: Italian Department; French and Francophone Studies; Women's Studies; Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement and Education.

Virtual Link: https://vassar.zoom.us/j/95183806805

Melissa Connor

Italian Department