Second Diasporas Conference draws interest from Northeastern colleges

Geneseo hosted the second First World Diasporas of Undergraduate Conference with SUNY New Paltz on Friday April 25 and Saturday April 26. The conference invited both undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals from all around the region to share and discuss their ideas about all issues relevant to diasporas of color. The conference kicked off with the Art Exhibit Inauguration in Milne Library. Associate professor of Spanish Rose McEwen put the exhibit together with the intention of illustrating the importance of diaspora in the history of all people.

“The point is that nobody is here out of the blue,” she said. “You’ve arrived here from somewhere else.”

The “Collaborative Activism” panel also took place early on Friday and was put together by students or professionals that have been inspired by Geneseo’s retiring professor and Department Chair of Anthropology Rose-Marie Chierici. The panel was catered by the Provost’s Office.

“Many of the speakers contributed by bringing information about what diasporas are in relation to Rose-Marie’s experience but also in relation to what they have done to help people who are victims of diaspora,” McEwen said.

Many of these past students and professionals have helped Chierici with her past projects. These projects include Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa at Borgne Hospital in Haiti which was organized by Chierici.

Much of the conference consisted of papers and posters on the topic of diasporas, presented by students all across the Northeast region. It included presenters from Emory University, Nazareth College, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY New Paltz, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, City College of New York and professionals from Quebec.

“We also had people from the migrant center so, of course, many of these individuals already work to help ameliorate the issues or challenges faced by victims of diasporas,” McEwen said. “But I think that if we all become acquainted with each other and are better aware of what everyone is doing we will be in a position to collaborate more productively with each other.”

This interaction between people from different schools and regions led to an expansive discourse on the topic of diasporas of color.

“It was great to share ideas with students not only from different fields – English, history, anthropology, art – and with different areas of interest – Africa, the Caribbean, Native Americans, Islam – but also from different schools,” senior presenter Thomas Wight said.

In addition to the presentations, there were also dance and choral performances given by Geneseo’s Bhangra, Latino Student Association and Japanese Culture Club.

Many participants felt that the conference allowed them to delve further into the topics of the initial ideas of their presentations.

“The conference was very interactive; the discussions after presentations were very involved and educational as students, panelists and professors debated and discussed together panelist junior Hannah Pruch said. “It was exciting to extend the topic beyond the papers.”

The conference was funded by a grant from the SUNY Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.