The 2023 Black Studies Summer Seminar presents a series of virtual talks inspired by the theme of archive in Black studies. For this talk they present A Virtual Conversation with Erna Brodber and Ronald Cummings with Respondent Juliane Okot Bitek.
Erna Brodber was born in 1940, to a farmer and an elementary school teacher in rural Jamaica. She attended high school and university in Kingston, Jamaica where at University College of the West Indies, London (later University of the West Indies [UWI]), she graduated with a BA(Hons) in History, and MSc in Sociology and a PhD in History. She completed post-graduate work in the Anthropology Department at the University of Sussex and the department of Psychiatry at the University of Washington.
Today, she is based in her natal village as an independent scholar working through the agency she founded called blackspace, which focuses on understanding the thought and philosophy of descendants of African enslaved in the New World, as well as on community development.
Erna is the author of several published research papers and 14 monographs - 8 of which are non-fiction, 5 novels, and one collection of short stories. Her work has garnered awards from the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars, the government of the Netherlands, the government of Jamaica, the Institute of Jamaica, and the prestigious Windham-Campbell Award from Yale University in 2017.
She is currently working on a book tentativly titled, Out of Wales and into Jamaica: the Broadbers/Brodbers 1722-1922. Erna is currently seeking a publisher for a completed manuscript, a study in fiction and sociology called Mand and Woman Story.
Ronald Cummings is an Associate Professor of Caribbean Literature and Black Diaspora Studies in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. His work focuses on questions of gender and sexuality and Black cultural resistance. His work has been published in various journals and he is the editor of four critical volumes including Caribbean Literatures in Transition 1970-2020 (co-edited with Alison Donnell). He is also the editor of Make the World New: The Poetry of Lillian Allen. Ronald is associate editor of the Journal of West Indian Literature.
Juliane Okot Bitek
Juliane Okot Bitek is a poet. Her collection of poetry, 100 Days (University of Alberta, 2016) was nominated for several writing prizes including the 2017 BC Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, the 2017 Alberta Book Awards and the 2017 Canadian Authors Award for Poetry. It won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. A is for Acholi (Wolsak and Wynn, 2022) is a poetry collection that reflects on life as a Black diasporan person in Canada. Song and Dread (Talonbooks, 2023) is a collection of witness poems that moves through the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Juliane lives in Kingston, Canada, on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people. She is an assistant professor of Black Studies at Queen's University, in Kingston, where she is jointly appointed in the Gender Studies and English departments.