The Diaspora, Race, and Empire Colloquium

A Forum for Scholars of Diaspora, Race, and Empire

In the Diaspora, Race, and Empire Colloquium, we recognize the three keywords that animate our title to be united through themes, paradigms, and politics, rather than by regions or literary periods. In order to explore their mutual dependencies and complex relationships, we have invited participation from students and scholars working in disparate fields, such as comparative, postcolonial, and African-American literatures-- fields in which critical paradigms form around and test the concepts of race, diaspora, and empire. This colloquium will strengthen our community in the department, foster mentorship across sub-disciplines, and continue growing a shared project of conducting “a probing and capacious look at the structures of knowledge that shape our association, at how they reflect present interests and values, [and] how they enable or limit evolution and innovation,” as MLA President and Columbia Professor of English Marianne Hirsch proposed in 2012.

The format we have envisioned for this colloquium includes the following:

  • one formal, community-building activity each semester, including (but not limited to) talks by invited faculty speakers, presentations by advanced Ph.D. students, shared readings between faculty and students, and student panels.
  • a minimum of two workshops each semester, based on interest and demand for professional development activities (e.g. composing oral exam lists or dissertation proposals, mock job-talks) and feedback on works in progress (i.e. articles under revision for publication, dissertation chapters, conference papers, etc.)

Both of these categories of intellectual engagement amongst our peers will ensure that we can provide a much-needed space for students and faculty to interact over their shared intellectual project, developing new ties across sub-disciplines. Our hope is that it will also begin to carve out a much needed safe space for students within our discipline to share their scholarship with their peers and advisors.

To join our email list, please send a message to: Atefeh Akbari Shahmirzadi

Core Faculty Committee: Brent Hayes Edwards, Columbia University; Jennifer Wenzel, Columbia University


The following events have been scheduled for the 2014-2015 year. All events have been scheduled for 6:10 – 8 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month (with the exception of our November event) in 302 Philosophy Hall (the seminar room in the Graduate Student Lounge).


Fall 2014

Dissertation Seminar: Nijah Cunningham
Screening of two short films by Columbia alumna Frances Bodomo followed by Q&A with director


Spring 2015

Workshop of Meredith Shepard's article titled "Sea-Change: Nadine Gordimer’s Flood Model of Social Change in The Conservationist and “Loot"
Dissertation Seminar on Nicole Gervasio's First Chapter
6:10P-8:00P in 302 Philosophy
Reading Diaspora with Professor Brent Edwards
6:10P-8:00P in 302 Philosophy
Prospectus Workshop/ Orals formation workshop