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On Diasporas and Exile

Several of this year’s Humanities Institute programs — including the interdisciplinary faculty seminar, Writing Exile: Women, The Arts and Technologies, co-convened by Wanda Balzano (Women’s & Gender Studies) and Lynn Book (Theater & Dance and Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship), October conferences on “Diasporas and ‘Race‘” and “Minorities in Islam/Muslims as Minorities,” and November’s conference on “Exile and Interpretation” — explore common thematic elements in relation to diaspora and exile.

Dean Franco, Associate Professor of English and author of the new book, Race, Rights and Recognition, describes this emerging activity on the topics of diaspora and exile as fruitful and important: “To make sense of a diasporic culture, you need scholars of art, music, and literature; historians and religious studies experts; and political scientists and economists” talking and working together.

Franco also noted that without a single disciplinary home for scholars interested in diaspora studies, by necessity these researchers “have to collaborate or at least read interdisciplinarily to fill out their understanding.”

Franco also cites two trends for the recent activity on these topics at Wake Forest. The first is in relation to the broader academic and popular attention to trends such as the globalization of labor, finance capital, and arts and entertainment. As Franco notes, “All are responsible for the rapid movement of ideas, resources, and human beings around the globe.” A second factor is the increased funding for faculty to host conferences here on the WFU campus. Rather than having to pursue interdisciplinary discourse and scholarly symposia in venues that take faculty off campus, “recent support from the Provost’s Office and the Humanities Institute, among others, has made it possible for our faculty to bring the world of ideas back to campus” and the WFU community.

The Humanities Institute is pleased to support and be a part of the flourishing activity of diaspora and exile studies on the Wake Forest campus and in the larger community.

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