CFP: "With Harp and Sword": Navigating and Resisting the Second Nadir CAAR Conference 2019

Claire Oberon Garcia's picture





“With Harp and Sword”: Navigating and Resisting The Second Nadir



Wednesday, January 30 - Saturday, February 2, 2019


“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road


CAAR is excited to co-host its 13th biennial international conference with the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community and the University of Central Florida, which has been designated the 2018-19 academic year as the YEAR OF ZORA. The conference will be held in conjunction with Eatonville’s ZORA! Festival.


The legacy of Zora Neale Hurston~ folklorist, anthropologist, novelist, playwright, and essayist~ is more relevant now than ever. In the year that the 30th annual ZORA! Festival celebrates Eatonville’s rich cultural heritage and the life of its most famous citizen, the world is experiencing what black people in the United States and around the world see as a “Second Nadir.” The historian Rayford Logan originated the term “The Nadir” to describe the period of virulent anti-blackness that emerged in the wake of advances in legal rights, educational access and social mobility for blacks after Reconstruction.  The period between 1877 (when Eatonville was founded as the first of several self-governing African American municipalities) and the first two decades of the twentieth century witnessed a rollback of hard-won legal and citizenship rights for African Americans, an increase in state and state-sanctioned violence against black citizens, the first wave of placing Confederate monuments in public spaces (the second wave occurred during the Civil Rights movement) and a flourishing of negative images of black people in popular culture. As we embark upon a century that has witnessed the election of the first black president of the United States and has seen efforts of white Western nations to come to terms with the fact that they have been multicultural societies for many decades, we find once again a resurgence of anti-blackness not only in the United States, but worldwide. Like the first Nadir, the Second Nadir is a backlash against advances in black legal rights, educational access and social mobility.


Hurston’s career and the history of the all-black community that she was so proud of embody many of the contradictions and paradoxes of black cultural and social life in a white supremacist society. Hurston was one of the first intellectuals to study and appreciate the complexity and vibrancy of black culture. She decentered whiteness in both her research and creative work. Her ethnographic studies took her throughout the African Diaspora, demonstrating the connections among communities in Jamaica, Haiti, and the American South, where she collected folklore and oral histories of black people, including the Gullah-Geechee people of the coastal sea islands of Georgia and South Carolina. Believing in the strength and integrity of black communities that had preserved and created their own traditions even after suffering the physical, psychic, and social brutalities of enslavement and colonization, she controversially asserted that racial integration was not necessary for and perhaps even undermined black wellbeing.


Hurston’s home state of Florida is a state rich in the complicated history of colonialism, enslavement, migration and civil rights that is at the nexus of trajectories that move through Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. Orlando offers an opportunity to interrogate that history, critically analyzing the challenges as well as the progress born out of Floridians’ self-determination, resilience and creativity.


We are interested in work that addresses themes of the many forms of black cultural celebration and resistance in the face of “blacklash” in history and the present. We welcome academic papers and creative work in any discipline and medium. We are particularly interested in a broad range of topics that focus on black resistance, black cultural expression as a means of affirmation and resistance, Hurston’s legacy, and the relationship of the Florida region to the global black diaspora. CAAR is an international organization that particularly encourages work that reflects a comparative and/or diasporic focus from scholars throughout the world.


Suggested topics might include but are not limited to:

  • The effects of formal and informal segregation
  • The resegregation of educational institutions
  • Black Florida and the Caribbean
  • Black writers of the region
  • The influence of ZNH on other writers
  • The Meaning of the Movie Black Panther in the Age of Trump" to  "The Black Cinema Renaissance in the Age of Trump" (e.g., Black Panther, Get Out, Wrinkle in Time, Sorry to Bother You)  
  • Black Lives Matter across nations and continents
  • The influence of ZNH on anthropology
  • Black Conservatives in the Americas and beyond
  • All-black towns, past and present
  • Black Popular Culture and Folklore Traditions
  • ZNH and the New Negro
  • Blacklash
  • Black migrations and immigration
  • Relationships between black and Seminole people in Florida
  • Blackness and the (post-)Anthropocene[GG1] 
  • Afropessimism
  • Resistance and popular music (i.e. Lemonade, DAMN, This is America)
  • The World that Shondra Rhimes Made
  • Blacks on Television
  • Black Twitter
  • Barracoon
  • Black entrepreneurship past and present
  • Gun violence and black communities
  • The Hate U Give and the New Black YA novels
  • Disney and Race
  • Campus climate issues
  • Black student activism then and now


CAAR welcomes proposals for complete panels, individual papers, and workshops that focus on applied or experiential aspects of the conference theme. Please limit abstracts to 500 words or fewer.


Please send proposals by 31 August 2018 to