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Istanbul | November 2017

Hal went on to eye-opening Istanbul for lectures on “Black Fire: An African American Scholar-Activist in a White-Supremacist Society,” part of a popular series of English-language “Farabi Talks” at Medipol University, and, later, “Ousmane Sembene and the African Cinema of Contestation” at the Istanbul Design Center, a specialized institute in the arts where important political events had taken place. Of course, the people, the architecture, and the preservation of history were as beautiful as imagined before arriving.  What was surprising was the keen interest in his topics, allowing him to engage with Turkish scholars, for example, who had written Masters theses in African and African American Studies on author James Baldwin and on African author-cineaste, Ousmane Sembene.  While there is no organized academic program in African or African American Studies in Turkey, it seems that there is expanding interest in that field of academic study. Hal continues to mentor a couple of Ph.D. candidates in African and African American Studies. It appears that this will not be his last sojourn there. Also, surprising to Hal were the political and ideological tensions in Turkey between those who wish to continue close relations and identification with the West, including Turkey’s current membership in NATO, and those wishing closer ties with the East, including the Islamic world, Russia, and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus Mountains. The decolonization movement seems very much alive.  It is difficult to predict what steps the passion for change will take.  It is even more difficult to predict what future Turkish-American relations will be like.

"A Stance Against Colonialism: African Cinema" at the Istanbul Design Center

4 November 2017

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