Law School to Host UM Constitution Commemoration

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law is honoring the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution by hosting the university’s Constitution Day commemoration at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 20) in Weems Auditorium.

Each year, the celebration features a panel, which is an edition of the school’s Student Legal Scholarship Exposition. Students will present their published and forthcoming works on specific constitutional issues, followed by responses from faculty and audience members.

“We have one of the most robust and thoughtful constitutions in the world,” said Michele Alexandre, the school’s associate dean who organized the event. “It is exciting to have such high-level engagement taking place on constitutional issues between our faculty and students.”

This year’s presenters are Allison Bruff, speaking on “Ripe for Rejection: A Methodology for States’ Departure from Utah v. Strieff and Its Poisonous Fruit” (Mississippi Law Journal, Volume 86); Catherine Norton, “Keeping Faith with the Fourth Amendment: Why States Should Require a Warrant for Breathalyzer Tests in the Wake of Birchfield v. North Dakota” (Mississippi Law Journal, Volume 87, forthcoming); and TreMarcus Rosemon, “Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones … But Symbols Hurt, Too: Government Speech and the First Amendment” (work-in-progress).

The faculty discussants are Chris Green and Matthew Hall.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

MFA Student Wins Prestigious Cave Canem Award in Poetry

Julian Randall gets $1,000 and will have collection of poems published

Julian Randall of Chicago is the recipient of a 2017 Cave Canem Award in Poetry. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi graduate student is the latest recipient of a prestigious award cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African-American poets.

Julian David Randall, a second-year student in the university’s critically acclaimed Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, has won the 2017 Cave Canem Award in Poetry.

The Chicago native gets a $1,000 cash prize and publication contract, and his first full-length collection of poetry will be published and marketed nationwide. “Refuse” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) was selected for publication by Vievee Francis, who is considered one of the greatest minds in modern poetry.

“I know that it’s stereotypical to say, ‘I was pinching myself,’ but my genuine reaction was that I had to still be asleep,” Randall recalled. “The Cave Canem Prize is literally my dream prize and my favorite book prize, the only prize for which I own every single book that has ever won it.

“For this to happen, to have my name alongside books I have wept over, aspired towards, that have launched careers that have made so much of my poetics possible, it’s beyond surreal.”

UM administrators and faculty said Randall is most deserving is his honor.

“Julian is one of our brightest and most promising MFA students,” said Ivo Kamps, chair and professor of English. “That he won the Cave Canem Award before even starting his second year in the program is nothing short of astonishing. It’s literally unprecedented.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Julian, his mentor Dr. Derrick Harriell and our entire MFA faculty.”

Randall is among the most dedicated graduate students with whom he’s had the privilege to work, said Harriell, assistant professor of English and MFA program director.

“His attention to detail and powerful subject matter is illustrated in this very prestigious honor,” he said. “The Cave Canem book prize is amongst our most celebrated, and to have one of our own MFA students be this year’s recipient is gratifying on so many levels.

“I know that Julian will continue to do great things in the future. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Randall earned his bachelor’s degree in English-black studies and education from Swarthmore College. He was drawn to the Ole Miss MFA program after hearing it praised by podcast co-hostess and alumna Aziza Barnes.

“The way Aziza spoke of Ole Miss and why come to Oxford aligned really well with what I saw as the trajectory of ‘Refuse’ at that time,” he said. “I can honestly say the day Derrick called to tell me that I got in was one of the best days of my entire life, and we’ve been rolling strong ever since.

“I’ve had a really great experience at Ole Miss thus far and I’ve never studied anywhere that the faculty have been more open to suggestions and requests.”

Randall said he plans to promote his book in New York this fall.

“I’m not sure where this will take me,” Randall said. “I just know I’m going to keep working as hard as I can to be worthy of the life I’ve been gifted thus far.”

A nonprofit literary service organization with administrative and programming headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, the Cave Canem Foundation has grown from a gathering of 26 poets to become an influential movement with a renowned faculty, high-achieving national fellowship of over 400 and a workshop community of 900.

For more about the university’s MFA program in creative writing, visit http://mfaenglish.olemiss.edu/. For more about the Cave Canem Foundation, go to http://cavecanempoets.org/.

UM Disaster Mental Health Expert Offers Advice for Hurricane Survivors

Department of Social Work offers tips to those affected by recent storms

UM students help collect nonperishable foods as part of a campus drive. Getting involved in volunteer activities or events that help others is an excellent way to deal with the stress from a major disaster, mental health experts advise. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – With 1,409 students from Texas and 513 from Florida enrolled this fall, the University of Mississippi is the home away from home for many residents of the two states that sustained the greatest impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Many students’ and even some faculty members’ homes and property were damaged or destroyed while they watched the storm’s news coverage and waited to hear from their family members back home.

“(It was) probably the worst week in my life,” said adjunct legal studies professor George Ackerman, who was at his home in Del Ray Beach, Florida, when Hurricane Irma made landfall. “We are perfect today and everyone accounted for here, but it was very bad.

“Ninety degree temperatures in our home, and the baby and kids as well as pets were doing very bad. I slept on the floor, and we jumped staying from house to house as there were no hotels. Finally, we got one after four days. The hurricane itself was frightening to everyone, but we move forward.”

While managing loss of property is often top of mind after a natural disaster, managing the psychological effects of an event of this magnitude can be an even more critical part of storm recovery.

The psychological impact for individuals who are directly impacted by disaster – those who have lost property or a loved one, or who have been injured or dislocated – puts them at risk for developing long-term psychosocial conditions, said Daphne Cain, disaster mental health expert and chair of the UM Department of Social Work.

“Post-disaster reactions and behaviors may appear to be symptoms of psychological distress,” Cain said. However, many of these reactions are normal for people responding to traumatic situations.

“Studies show some common reactions include symptoms of shock, exhaustion, disorientation, irrationality, racing thoughts, fear and anxiety, or uncontrollable emotions,” said Cain, citing a 2013 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Cain offered five important tips for students affected by the storms:

– Talk about it. Connect with social support systems, including family, friends, teachers and residence hall advisers. Visit the Student Health CenterPsychological Services Center or the Counseling Center.

First-year biology major Maggie Coulter,of Houston, Texas, puts effort into staying connected with her family in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“I call and check on my parents and grandmother every day,” said Coulter, whose family continues to work on repairing her grandmother’s home, which suffered substantial water damage from the storm.

– Take care and calm yourself. Avoid using alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and engage in healthy coping, including yoga, stretching, walking and deep breathing. Get the rest you need, drink plenty of water for hydration and eat healthy meals and snacks.

– Turn off social media, television and radio. Listening to and viewing coverage of the disaster can be traumatizing or re-traumatizing. Take a break from listening to and viewing coverage.

– Get back to your daily routines. Returning to your normal routine, including going to class, meeting deadlines, engaging with friends and with usual activities, are good ways to regain a sense of control and can help those affected feel less anxious.

– Get involved. You are not alone. Engage in positive activities such as discussion groups and volunteering activities that can help to create a sense of meaning and connectedness. Get involved in university-related volunteer opportunities.

The Department of Social Work’s mission is to prepare competent and ethical social workers, for scientific inquiry and practice, who are leaders committed to social and economic justice, diversity and the enrichment of the quality of life at every level of society. For more information about social work at Ole Miss, email socialwork@olemiss.edu.

Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Film Series Begins Sept. 21

UM screenings part of Hispanic Heritage Month observance

OXFORD, Miss. – “Hard-to-see films from unexpected countries” are on tap as part of the Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Film Series, hosted by the University of Mississippi Department of Modern Languages. It begins Sept. 21 with a screening of “The Return.”

The film series is part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which will be observed at Ole Miss from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. All five films have English subtitles and will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursdays in Lamar Hall, Room 131. The Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library also will host a showing of one of the films in the series, “Truman,” at 3 p.m. Sept. 30.

The series consists of five contemporary films from Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain this time, said Diane Marting, associate professor of modern languages and one of the organizers. 

“This year has several special features: a community showing, hard-to-see films from unexpected countries and a nice, new location,” Marting said.

The films to be screened at 7 p.m. Thursdays in Lamar Hall are:

  • Sept. 21 – “The Return.” This Costa Rican movie is based on a life-changing journey back to Costa Rica.
  • Sept. 28 – “Truman.” Argentinean actor Ricardo Darín stars in a beautiful nostalgic movie about a dog named Truman. The movie was awarded Spain’s Goya Prize for the best film of 2015. The Oxford Public Library also will screen “Truman” on Sept. 30.
  • Oct. 5 – “The Companion.” Cuba’s official entry to the Academy Awards covers the period in the 1980s when HIV patients were sent to AIDS centers under military rule.
  • Oct. 12 – “The Tenth Man.” This comedy explores identity, faith and father-son relationships in Once, which is Buenos Aires’ bustling Jewish district.
  • Oct. 19 – “Seven Boxes.” This Paraguayan crime thriller chronicles a few days in the life of Victor, a daydreaming 17-year-old pushcart porter in Mercado 4 who is asked to keep seven boxes with unknown content away from the police.

The trailers for the films can be seen here.

The Hispanic Heritage Series is made possible with the support of Pragda, the Spanish Film Club.com, SPAIN Arts & Culture, and the Secretary of State for the Culture of Spain. Local major sponsors are the Department of Modern Languages, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. Other sponsors include the College of Liberal Arts; the cinema studies minor program; the departments of English, history, political science and sociology and anthropology; Croft Institute for International Studies; the Oxford Film Festival; and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies.

“This series promotes cultural understanding of the Hispanic community,” said Carmen Sánchez, a UM modern languages instructor and another of the organizers.

Irene Kaufmann, UM lecturer of Spanish and another co-organizer, added, “Being exposed to international cinema is one way of opening our minds to the world, something we all need very much in these times.”

Founder of Georgetown Memory Project to Speak at UM

Richard Cellini to discuss work Monday in public lecture

The tombstone of GU272 member Cornelius Hawkins (born 1825, died 1902) is in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery in Maringouin, Louisiana. Richard Cellini, founder of the Georgetown Memory Project, will discuss his work to track down GU272 members at 4 p.m. Monday in Barnard Observatory. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Richard Cellini, founder of the Georgetown Memory Project, will speak Monday (Sept. 18) at the University of Mississippi about how he helped identify descendants of slaves at Georgetown University.

The event, set for 4-5 p.m. in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory, is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus, learned that in 1838, the university sold 272 slaves to plantations in Louisiana to pay off university debts. A computer scientist, Cellini wanted to use data to find out where these people and their descendants went. He, along with other Georgetown alumni, located 212 of the original GU272 members, along with more than 5,200 of their direct descendants.

“Richard’s research of the Georgetown slaves has facilitated a much-needed discussion regarding the specific benefactors of this long-standing institution in America,” said Chuck Ross, co-chair of the UM Slavery Research Group. “We continue to discuss the need for frank dialogue around race relations in this country; this project is another example of that need.” 

Cellini will discuss the Georgetown Memory Project, the group’s history, ongoing work with descendants and the relationship with Georgetown University. The work has sparked national interest.

Richard J. Cellini

Upon discovery of the descendants, Georgetown offered legacy admission. Melisande Short-Colomb is one of those descendants who has enrolled this fall as a freshman at Georgetown, according to the Washington Post. At 63, she is the university’s oldest undergraduate.

The event is sponsored by the UM Slavery Research Group, with support from the Office of the Provost and the College of Liberal Arts. The group invited Cellini to campus because its members are interested in slavery history at UM.

“The Georgetown Memory project is a terrific example of how learning more about slavery in our nation’s past can propel us forward as a society,” co-chair Jeffrey Jackson said. “It’s a great opportunity for those of us here at UM to learn more about the Georgetown University story that has captured the attention of the nation.”

The Slavery Research Group has collaborated with University Museums and the Center for Archaeological Research to conduct archaeological research at Rowan Oak to better understand the lives of enslaved workers who lived on the estate during the pre-Faulkner antebellum period. The interdisciplinary group also is working on other research and community events.

For more information, visit http://slaveryresearchgroup.olemiss.edu/.

Biomimetic Acoustic Sensors Topic of Sept. 19 Science Cafe

Renowned researcher Ronald N. Miles is first lecturer for fall semester

A fly sits atop a cricket listening to sounds inaudible to the human ear. A new nanochip inside a hearing aid is capable of mimicking the fly’s acoustic sensors. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The acoustical organs of insects and their potential to revolutionize human hearing aids is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fall semester’s first meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. on Oxford. Ronald N. Miles, chair and distinguished professor of mechanical engineering at the State University of New York at Binghamton, will discuss “Biomimetic Acoustic Sensors for Hearing Aids.” Admission is free.

“We have studied the hearing in mosquitoes, flies, crickets, midges, caterpillars and spiders to explore remarkable ways these insects sense sound,” Miles said. “In this presentation, I will describe our discovery of the amazing directional ears of a special fly, Ormia ochracea, which is able to localize sound better than humans can, even though its ears fit in a space only 1 millimeter across.”

Mile’s 40-minute presentation also will include discussion about the development of biomimetic microphones based on this discovery, which show better performance than existing hearing aid microphones.

“We have also recently discovered new ways to sense sound based on the use of nanoscale fibers, such as insect hairs or spider silk,” he said. “This has resulted in a directional microphone that has ideal flat frequency response from 1 hertz to 50 kilohertz, far beyond the range of human hearing.

“There remains much more to learn from nature to create technology to improve hearing.”

Miles also will present a talk in the colloquium series of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at 4 p.m. that day in Lewis Hall, Room 101, on “The Naonphone: Sensing sound with nanoscale spider silk.”

Miles’ appearance should be interesting for everybody, said Marco Cavaglia, organizer of the Science Cafe series.                                                                                                                                                          

“Dr. Miles is an expert in acoustic engineering, electronic engineering and optical engineering,” said Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “His presentations are sure to be fascinating and enlightening.”

Miles received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkley, and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington at Seattle. He holds memberships in the Acoustical Society of America, American Society of Engineering Education, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the International Society for Neuroethology.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy or call 662-915-7046.

FedEx Founder Fred Smith Issues Challenge at Honors Convocation

Annual fall event also featured Silicon Valley icon Jim Barksdale

Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, delivers the keynote address Tuesday evening during the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Fall Convocation in the Ford Center. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Legendary FedEx founder and CEO Frederick W. Smith challenged University of Mississippi honors students Tuesday (Sept. 12) to continue having academic conversations with the aim of developing workable solutions to national and global problems.

Smith was the keynote speaker for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College’s Fall Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Celebrating the college’s 20th anniversary, the program also featured Silicon Valley icon and Ole Miss alumnus Jim Barksdale, who introduced Smith.

“If this country is to continue being recognized as the leading nation on the global scene, then we must use rational thinking and political compromise to fix our problems,” Smith said. “I think that the answers are going from young minds such as those found in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“Even as students, when you search for good ideas, it can lead to big things.”

Considered one of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, Smith founded FedEx more than 46 years ago. He recounted how his global corporation began with a paper he wrote as a student at Yale University. Smith’s idea went on to revolutionize the transportation industry and beyond.

“We singlehandedly created the overnight delivery system,” Smith said. “We also invented the ability to track and trace shipments while in transit, pioneered the unique wireless technology to keep in touch with all our service people and spearheaded transportation deregulation, which made it easier for growing companies to get goods and services to market.”

While citing the company’s assets and achievements, Smith maintained that its people are the real key to FedEx’s success.

“The FedEx culture is that people plus service equals prosperity,” Smith said. “The Purple Promise of every employee is ‘I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.'”

Barksdale credited Smith with changing traditional business operations from the industrial model into a technological society.

“FedEx has such a stellar reputation because it was led by this man of such great integrity and incredible executive leadership acumen,” he said.

Smith, in turn, praised Barksdale as “one of the great resources of American history.”

“This Honors College is named for one of the greatest philanthropists and advocates for education that I have ever known,” Smith said. “She was a true American hero who lived her life for the betterment of others.”

Smith’s visit represented an extraordinary moment for UM students, Honors College Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

“Mr. Smith is one this country’s most important and innovative corporate leaders,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “I am thrilled that our students had the opportunity to hear and interact with such an impactful figure in his field.”

Sullivan-Gonzalez also praised Barksdale and his family for their contributions to the Honors College.

“Jim is a pioneer and leader in the technology world and a great friend of education and the University of Mississippi,” he said. “A noted alum of our business school, Jim’s career achievements and the commitment of his time, energy, passion and resources to elevating the quality of life in his home state are truly remarkable.”

With an annual income exceeding $60 billion, FedEx employs more than 400,000 workers in 220 countries. With a fleet of 650 cargo aircraft and thousands of delivery trucks, the company delivers more than 13 million shipments daily.

Cyrus Chestnut Quartet to Perform at Ford Center

Thursday show is first in the 2017-18 Jazz Series

The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet performs Thursday at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host a night of jazz Thursday (Sept. 14) with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet.

Chestnut, a Baltimore native and soulful jazz pianist, blends contemporary, traditional and gospel jazz styles with soulful sounds and a mix of Latin and samba. His style allows him to explore a wide range of emotions with his music, all while keeping it under the jazz umbrella.

The performance is part of the 2017-18 Jazz Series, made possible by a gift to the Ford Center from Marty and John Dunbar.

“We are looking forward to opening our first Jazz Series with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “We are truly grateful to the Dunbars for their generosity. It’s a great addition to our season and a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

Chestnut also will conduct a master class at noon Wednesday (Sept. 13) in Nutt Auditorium. The class is free and open to the public.

The New York Times praised Chestnut’s performance at a previous concert: “His brand of crisp articulation and blues inflected harmony evokes another era … multifaceted and dynamic. … Mr. Chestnut was the evening’s star and he brought charisma to the role.”

Tickets are $25 for the orchestra, parterre and tier 1 box levels, $20 for the mezzanine and tier 2 box level and $18 for balcony seating. All tickets are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. Tickets can also be purchased online at http://fordcenter.org/.

School of Business Administration Kicks Off Centennial

Receptions, commemorative book planned to celebrate 100 years of excellence

Alumni, faculty and staff of the UM School of Business Administration gather in the courtyard of Holman Hall to kick off the observance of the school’s centennial. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration kicked off its centennial celebration Friday (Sept. 8) with an early fall reception for faculty, staff and alumni in the courtyard of Holman Hall.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter led his remarks by recalling the state of the university in 1917, the year the business school was established. That year, the university had an incoming class of 150 students, the population of Mississippi was 1.8 million, John D. Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire and only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.

This fall, the school has more than 3,800 students, 63 faculty members and 18 people, making it the largest business school in Mississippi. It offers 11 majors, a top 10 insurance program and a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“I challenge the School of Business to imagine a future in which we increase entrepreneurship and connections to businesses and other external entities to support research programs, academic programs and creative initiatives,” Vitter said. “Our school of business is well-poised to increase the reach and potential of the university’s creative outputs and garner additional resources to propel us to even great heights of excellence.”

New banners celebrating the milestone have gone up on the outside columns of the school as students settle into a new academic year. The business school also hosted a tent in the Circle for tailgating around the Ole Miss-University of Tennessee at Martin game for faculty, staff and alumni.

“This centennial celebration is really a celebration of human accomplishment, a celebration of the people who have been dedicated for 100 years to improving the understanding, the teaching and the service to advance business and business principles,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost. “One hundred years is a significant milestone, one that signifies the perseverance of human accomplishment toward improving the practice of business for an entire century.”

The Master of Business Administration program, started in 1941, is ranked among the nation’s best, at No. 36 among the nation’s public universities by Bloomberg Businessweek News Service, and the online program came in at No. 22 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 ranking.

“Thousands of lives have been changed, thousands of opportunities created and thousands of people making a difference,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“I look forward to the next 100 years and know we are poised to do great things with the dedication and commitment of this group of people in the business school.”

In honor of the centennial, the UM Foundation has created the 1917 Order, a fundraising effort to recruit faculty, provide scholarships and increase class offerings, among many other initiatives. Membership begins with a gift of $25,000 or greater, with pledges scheduled over five years.

“To grow the endowment for the UM School of Business Administration, we have created the 1917 Order,” said Tim Noss, development officer for the school. “This effort will allow us to continue to grow in national rankings, recruit top students and faculty, and reach for new heights of excellence for the school.”

The school has relaunched BusinessFirst, the school’s magazine, which was distributed to alumni and friends by mail and given out at the celebration Friday. The magazine features alumnus Gen. Major Leon Collins on the cover and includes stories on a myriad of programs, students, faculty and alumni.

A report on the Risk Management and Insurance program’s recognition as one of 12 programs in the U.S. to receive the prestigious Global Centers of Insurance Excellent designation at the International Insurance Society’s Global Insurance Form in London is among the features included in the magazine.

Other highlights include the efforts of a group of MBA students to help a friend paralyzed in a car accident; the student portfolio team coming in fourth in the TVA Investment Challenge, among 23 other schools, with an 11.95 percent return; and the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, a group of alumni who invest in student-run startup business to help them grow.

The school’s leadership has planned two more events to continue the centennial celebration throughout the fall. On Oct. 17, Chancellor Jeffrey and Sharon Vitter will host the business school students at Carrier House.

The final event is set for 5 p.m. Nov. 10 at Off Square Books on the Oxford Square, where a celebration and book signing will take place for “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years,” a 160-page illustrated history of the school forthcoming from Nautilus Press.

A number of alumni, featured in the book, will be at Off Square Books to sign their individual pages, and the school’s communication officers, Stella Connell and Chad Hathcock, will screen a video commemorating “100 Years of Ole Miss Business.”

All Ole Miss alumni are invited to attend the Square Books event and celebrate the centennial with business school faculty, staff, alumni and friends.

Visiting Professor to Discuss Foods of Slave Trade Thursday at UM

Judith Carney featured speaker of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program

Judith Carney

OXFORD, Miss. – A geographer from the University of California at Los Angeles will discuss foods grown by African slaves Thursday (Sept. 14) at the University of Mississippi.

Judith Carney begins her lecture, “Seeds of Memory: Food Legacies of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” at 5:30 p.m. in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory. Her appearance, part of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society’s Visiting Scholar Program, is free and open to the public.

The event is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and its departments of History and Modern Languages, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“Professor Carney’s lecture on the contribution of the transatlantic slave trade to the foodways of the Americas, including the southeastern United States, will give people a new perspective on something very familiar: the food on their plates,” said William Schenck, associate director of UM’s Croft Institute for International Studies and president of the UM chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

“It will also highlight the agency of enslaved African people, who, using their knowledge about the cultivation of African plants to feed themselves, created a new food culture, with important consequences for what – and how – we eat today.”

Carney’s research centers on African ecology and development, food security and agrarian change and African contributions to New World environmental history. She is the author of “Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas” (Harvard University Press, 2001) and “In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World” (University of California Press, 2010).

“This talk shifts our usual historical focus from the export crops slaves produced to the foods they planted for their own sustenance,” Carney said. “The lecture emphasizes the role of African foods in provisioning the transatlantic slave trade, the slave ship as a medium for their circulation and the slave food plots where these foods initially appeared.

“In doing so, it underscores the significance of the transatlantic slave trade for the circulation of African plants, animals and natural knowledge in the Atlantic world.”

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization in the liberal arts. Chartered in 2001, the UM chapter is the second of two in Mississippi and the only one sheltered at a public university in the state.

“An event such as this is the epitome of cultural opportunity available to those living in a college town,” said Sandra Spiroff, associate professor of mathematics and vice president of the chapter.

“The Visiting Scholar Program provides the community free access to presentations by national researchers on a variety of topics and potentially challenges the listener to consider viewpoints other than his or her own. For students of all ages, this is a particular aim of a liberal education.”