Michael A. Gomez, Silver Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University (NYU), and the director of NYU’s Center for the Study of Africa and the African Diaspora (CSAAD) will be the keynote speaker for the William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History, the next event of the 2023-2024 Wittenberg Series. The event will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in Kissell Auditorium inside Koch Hall on campus. His address is titled “Of Golden Ages and Times Less Shimmering: West Africa Then and Now.”
Having served as the founding director of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) from its inception in 2000 to 2007, Gomez serves as the founding editor of the Cambridge Studies on the African Diaspora (Cambridge University Press) and as the general editor of its Cambridge History of the African Diaspora, a three-volume series scheduled for 2025.
Gomez has also served as chair of the history departments at both NYU and Spelman College, and was president of UNESCO's International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project from 2009 to 2011. His first book, Pragmatism in the Age of Jihad: The Precolonial State of Bundu (Cambridge University Press, 1992), examines a Muslim polity in what is now eastern Senegal. The next publication, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), is concerned with questions of culture and race. The edited volume, Diasporic Africa: A Reader (NYU Press, 2006), is more fully involved with the idea of an African diaspora, as is Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (Cambridge University Press, 2005 and 2019). The monograph Black Crescent: African Muslims in the Americas (Cambridge University Press, 2005) examines African Muslims in bondage and freedom throughout the Americas, integrating Islamic Africa into the analysis.
His most recent book, African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa (Princeton University Press, 2018), a comprehensive study of polity and religion during the region’s most iconic moment, was awarded the 2019 African Studies Association Best Book Prize (formerly known as the Herskovits Prize) and the 2019 American Historical Association’s Martin A. Klein Prize in African History.
Gomez supports the struggles of African people worldwide. He earned a B.A. in U.S. history and master’s and doctoral degrees in African history from the University of Chicago. While on campus, he will meet with students and faculty during a class visit.
The William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History was established under the auspices of the Board of Directors of Wittenberg University with the assistance of numerous benefactors to honor Dr. Kinnison on the occasion of his retirement as president of the University in 1995 following 25 years of service to his alma mater.
The Wittenberg Series was created in 1982 during President William A. Kinnison’s tenure. Since its inception, Nobel Laureates, scientists, significant literary figures, most of America’s foremost modern dance companies, as well as hundreds of prominent psychologists, educators, economists, writers, theologians, urban planners, and historians, have visited campus to participate.
All events of the Wittenberg Series are open to the public free of charge. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance. Below are further details related to each Series’ event.
Remaining 2023-2024 Wittenberg Series Events:
- Friday, Dec. 8: Candlelight Chapel Service, Lessons and Carols for Advent & Christmas, Weaver Chapel, 7:30 p.m. with pre-service music beginning at 7 p.m.
- Monday, Jan. 15, 2024: Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation (collaboration with Diversity Advisory Committee), 11 a.m. in Weaver Chapel, featuring 2013 Wittenberg graduates Karlos L. Marshall and Moses B. Mbeseha, co-founders of The Conscious Connect.
- Monday, Feb. 19, 2024: Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Hanif Abdurraqib, poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio.
- Thursday, March 14, 2024: Sauer Symposium, Pastor Drew Tucker, executive director of Hopewood Outdoors Lutheran Camps and author of “4D Formation,” which focuses on vocation for young adults, at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
- Monday, March 18, 2024: Tribe for Jazz concert with saxophonist Jon Irabagon at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
- Tuesday, April 9, 2024: Leventhal Family Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Eli Saslow, currently a writer at-large for the New York Times, who was formerly with the Washington Post.