Student Report on the Screening of ‘Blurring The Color Line’

By Anjini Mani

On November 30th, 2023, DKU hosted award-winning filmmaker Crystal Kwok to share her film “Blurring the Color Line” (2022). Sponsored by UG Studies and the Humanities Research Center (Freedom Lab, Doc Lab, and co-host SuperDeep), the screening was followed by a Q&A session, and a filmmaker and storyteller salon the next day.

Over 150 students and faculty attended the film screening, packing the DKU theater. The short film captivated and touched the audience in different ways. Through the lens of her own family, Kwok narrates race relations in the United States between Chinese Americans and African Americans living in Augusta, Georgia, in the US South. The period revolves around the Jim Crow era, a period of American history that divided, disadvantaged, and discriminated against African Americans in social and legal systems. Kwok draws these stories to the present, illustrating a progression and a greater understanding connecting two worlds, but also systemic racial oppression left behind in the past proliferating still in our communities. The narrative was hard-hitting and emotional, putting in the light an understudied history, forgotten by our high school textbooks. Coming to terms with an uncomfortable past one would rather not face was difficult but important for the young generation to learn, remember, and most of all, understand the present day.

Students and faculty raised intelligent questions in the Q&A section, with curiosity fueled by a deeply introspective film experience. Many felt connected to different parts of the film within their own lives, sharing their unique experiences with the group. Kwok shared the internal dialogue she had in the course of making the film, explaining how the journey of interviewing and storytelling profoundly molded her own views and perspectives on life and family.

Following the screening and Q&A the next day was a filmmaker and storyteller salon in the water pavilion. In a smaller, more intimate group of students, together with Professor Selina Lai-Henderson, Kwok elaborated further on the filmmaking process, taking students on a deep dive of the art of storytelling. The discussion ranged from the more technical parts of filmmaking to the more human side of sharing lives and experiences in the form of art. Students talked about personal experiences of racism and observations of race relations in their own countries and cultures. The intersection of feminism and race relations was a particularly interesting topic; the group discussed the implications of modern feminism and its connection with the erasure of important stories and perspectives.

A heartfelt thank you to all participants for contributing to meaningful dialogues in this event. We trust that it has ignited discussions, introspection, and curiosity in your lives, as it has in ours. Despite its challenges, acknowledging history is vital – the past shapes the present, and the present shapes the future.

Freedom Lab Film Screening: Stagecoach

Date/Time: Dec 14, 5:30pm China time
Location: IB lecture hall (in-person only)
Drinks and snacks will be served!

The film screening will be followed by a talk, as part of Freedom Lab’s US Studies Speakers’ Series, from Boris Vejdovsky on Dec 15, 4pm China time. Learn more about the talk >>

Additionally, the DKU library has the ebook of the shooting script of the movie:

Freedom Lab Presents: US Studies Speakers’ Series – Boris Vejdovsky

Date/Time: Dec 15, 4pm China time
Location: Zoom ID 334 3189 585
Speaker: Boris Vejdovsky (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)

The speaker will be discussing the film, Stagecoach, an early Western, in 1939. Freedom Lab will have a film screening the evening before, on Dec 14, 5:30pm China time. Learn more here >>

The Global Performance of American Culture: Rhetoric and Symbolic Forms in American Western Movies

The Western has often been read as a quintessentially American form of popular art, a genre that has expressed over decades the moods and anxieties of the nation. While many studies have shown that the Western metonymically expresses the social, political, racial, and sexual tensions of the nation, relatively little attention has been paid to its aesthetic and political forms. In other words, many critics have paid attention to what the Western says, but not so much to how it does it; while it is always dangerous to seek to oppose form and content, I propose to focus on the rhetoric and the prosody the Western. Continue reading “Freedom Lab Presents: US Studies Speakers’ Series – Boris Vejdovsky”

Freedom Lab Presents: Children Are Abolitionists: Boys and Girls of the Antislavery Movement 

HRC Freedom Lab invites you to join Michaël Roy on “Children Are Abolitionists: Boys and Girls of the Antislavery Movement.”

Date/Time: Fri, Nov 25, 8-9:30 PM China time
Zoom ID: 261 330 4845
Speaker: Michaël Roy

Children were a vital, though neglected, presence in the US abolition movement. Throughout the antebellum period, a variety of abolitionists—the Liberator’s editor William Lloyd Garrison and the white reformer Henry Clarke Wright, the fugitive slave turned abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the African American primary school teacher Susan Paul—appealed to children’s antislavery and antiracist sympathies. “If . . . we desire to see our land delivered from the curse of PREJUDICE and SLAVERY,” Garrison declared in 1835, “we must direct our efforts chiefly to the rising generation.” His call did not go unheeded. Young abolitionists read antislavery tracts and slave narratives; they attended antislavery meetings and fairs; they learned and penned antislavery speeches which they recited at school; they participated in Emancipation Day celebrations and in programs to honor the memory of John Brown; they raised money to finance antislavery lecturers’ international travels; they even signed antislavery petitions, testing the limits of their citizenship. Aided by their parents and teachers, Black and white children acted in concrete ways against the slave system and made a meaningful contribution toward its demise. This presentation sheds light on their little-known activism. Continue reading “Freedom Lab Presents: Children Are Abolitionists: Boys and Girls of the Antislavery Movement “

Student Report: Film screening of “I am Not Your Negro”

Reported by Mateja Bokan, Class of 2025.

This Documentary Screening of “I am Not Your Negro” is sponsored by HRC Freedom Lab on October 25, 2022.

Freedom Lab Co-Directors, Selina Lai-Henderson and Jesse Olsavsky introduces the film. (Photo by Jesse Campbell, Class of 2025)

Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House, I am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck is a Documentary nominated for an Academy Award that raises urgent ideas regarding racism in the United States of America. Continue reading “Student Report: Film screening of “I am Not Your Negro””

Freedom Lab invites you to 2022 Award Ceremony of the Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for Scholarship in Transnational American Studies

The International Committee of the American Studies Association is excited to announce the 2022 Award Ceremony of the Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for Scholarship in Transnational American Studies. The event will take place on November 11, 2022 at 11am EST over zoom:

Please join us in celebrating this year’s award-winner, Dr. Mahshid Mayar, on her monograph, Citizens & Rulers of the World: The American Child and the Cartographic Pedagogies of Empire (University of North Carolina Press, 2022). Congratulations, no less, to Dr. Dario Fazzi, whose work, “Imperial Constraints: Labor and U.S. Military Bases in Italy, 1954-1979” (Diplomatic History, Volume 45, Issue 3, 2021, 1-25) has been awarded an honorable mention!

Highlights of the event include a featured performance by the award-winning musician, Mahmoud ‘Mood’ Chouki, and a keynote by Professor Brian T. Edwards of Tulane University on “Global Port Cities: Imagining New Institutional Relationships.”

The music performance of this event is sponsored by HRC’s Freedom Lab.

Freedom Lab Documentary Screening of “I am Not Your Negro”

Please join the Freedom Lab in a viewing of the Academy Award Winning Documentary I am Not Your Negro, by Haitian director Raoul Peck. Narrated in the words of African American writer James Baldwin (1924-1987), I am Not Your Negro traces Baldwin’s experiences and reactions to the Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, as well as the deeply entrenched history of racism in the United States.  

Discussion will be held afterwards.  

Date & Time: Tues, Oct 25, 6-8PM Barcelona Time
Location: Third Floor of IES Building.  

Student Research Project: “The Forgotten Romance: An Art and Social History Study on Chinese Peasant Painting of 1950-70s”

Zheng Zou is one of the nine winners of 2022 Freedom Lab’s Shirley Graham and W.E.B Du Bois Award.

His research project is highlighted below. Read other student researcher’s projects here >>

Supported by Professor Qian Zhu

Project title:
The Forgotten Romance: An Art and Social History Study on Chinese Peasant Painting of 1950-70s

Project summary:

Chinese Peasant Painting was a major art movement in China active from 1950s to the late 1970s. It was the first time for Chinese peasants to engage in official art creation, which had long been reserved for the intellectual class. By examining the origin of a Chinese peasant painting, Chinese peasant paintings’ visual elements, and the movement’s interaction with socialist art trends in the mid-twentieth century, I argue that the Chinese peasant painting movement was a continuation and development of the mass movement since the founding of New China. Continue reading “Student Research Project: “The Forgotten Romance: An Art and Social History Study on Chinese Peasant Painting of 1950-70s””