Four-day conference, January 17-20 2013 (leaflet available)

Black Portraiture[s] : The Black Body in the West / Représentation du corps noir en occident is an event of great significance which will take place in France between January 17th and 20th 2013.

This conference is organized jointly by the Tisch School of the Arts and Institute of African American Affairs of the NYU (New York University) by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research of Harvard University, by the Center of African Studies of the EHESS and by the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.


«  “This conference is the 5th of a series which has been organized since 2004 by Harvard University and New York University. From the 19th century to nowadays, Black Portraiture(s) aims at exploring the different fabrication concepts and self-representation tools as well as the notion of exchange through the look, in the artistic and visual areas, literature, music, fashion and archives.

How are these images which are both positive and negative and defining, reproducing and transforming the representation of the black body, exhibited? Why and how has the black body become a negotiable product on the global market and what is its legitimacy? It is also crucial to understand what the answers and implications are. How could the representation of the black body be liberating as much for the one who bears that image as for the one looking? Can the image of the Black man be “deracialized” so as to encourage cultural regrouping and promote re-appropriation and a diversified expression beyond the limits of race?

Although the representation and description of Black people have most of the time been dominated by approaches based on race and sexuality, the way the Black body was imagined in the Western world has always been a rich space in terms of observations and contestations.

Black Portraiture(s) relies on the works and thoughts of writers, academicians, visual artists and art curators, among the most influential as of today or the emerging ones.»

Kiluanji Kia Henda, The Merchant of Venice, 2010 © NYU

Kiluanji Kia Henda, The Merchant of Venice, 2010 © NYU

Program available here:

The access to the conference is free but it is necessary to register in advance:


Among the Caribbean participants the presence of the following persons is noteworthy:

Alissandra Cummins & Allison Thompson (Barbados) in the panel The Imaginary & The Black Body – Thursday 17th from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ;

Roshini Kempadoo (Guyana) in the panel Memory & Nostalgia: The Archive in the Black Body – Friday 18th from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. ;

Simon N’jami (founder of Revue Noire), Elizabeth Colomba (Martinique) and Jean-Ulrick Désert (Haiti) in the round table Black Bodies: Live and Uncensored – Friday 18th from 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. ;

Shantrelle P. Lewis (USA, from CCCADI) & Michael McMillan (St. Vincent) in the panel Show Up to Show Out: The Rise of Global Black Dandyism – Friday 18th from 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. ;

Renée Cox (Jamaïque) and Alanna Lockward (Dominican Republic) in the panel (Il)legibilities : What Makes the Black Body Readable? – Saturday 20th from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Where is the conference ?

Thursday, January 17, 2013, École Nationale Supérieure Des Beaux-Arts, 14 Rue Bonaparte, Amphithéâtre 1 / Bâtiment Des Loges (A), Salle De Conférences/Palais Des Études (Sc).

Friday, January 18 2013, – Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, 15 rue Hélène Brion – 75013  Amphithéâtre Buffon.

January 19 & 20, 2013, musée du quai Branly, 37 Quai Branly, Théâtre Claude Lévi-Strauss (TCL) and Salle de cinéma (SC).


Headline picture’s credits : Kiluanji Kia Henda, The Great Italian Nude, 2010 ©  ArtforAfrica