Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture looks at jazz and African liberation

Robin Kelley, a professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California, will deliver the 2010 Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture, titled “The Jazz Atlantic: Modern Music in the Age of African Liberation”.

The Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture will take place Thursday, Oct. 7, from 4 to 6pm, at 0011 Computer Science & Engineering Building, Keele campus. Admission is free.

Much of Kelley’s work focuses on social movements in the United States and the African diaspora. He has written widely on music, visual culture and arts more broadly. More recently, his work has focused on culture and the politics of art, primarily with regard to the history of jazz and related musical forms.

Left: Robin Kelley

From 2003 to 2006 he was the William B. Ransford Professor of Cultural & Historical Studies at Columbia University, and from 1994 to 2003, he was a professor of history and Africana studies at New York University. Kelley has also served as a Hess Scholar-in-Residence at Brooklyn College. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Kelley held the Harmsworth Visiting Professorship of American History at Oxford University, and was the first African-American historian to do so since the position was established in 1922.

Kelly’s most recent work, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Free Press, 2009), a biography of arguably America’s most important jazz pianist/composer, was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research Non-fiction. He is currently completing the forthcoming Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (Harvard University Press), as well as a co-authored general survey of African-American history to be published by W.W. Norton & Co.

He is also the author of the prize-winning books Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (The University of North Carolina Press, 1990); Race Rebels: Culture, Politics and the Black Working Class (Free Press, 1994); Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (Beacon Press, 1998), which was selected as one of the top 10 books of 1998 by The Village Voice; Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century (Beacon Press, 2001), written collaboratively with Dana Frank and Howard Zinn; and Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Beacon Press, 2002).

In addition, he co-edited with Earl Lewis, To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (Oxford University Press, 2000), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and a History Book Club selection. To Make Our World Anew was an outgrowth of an earlier collaboration with Lewis, the 11-volume Young Oxford History of African Americans (Oxford University Press, 1997), of which he authored Volume 10, titled Into the Fire: African Americans Since 1970. Kelley also co-edited Imagining Home: Class, Culture and Nationalism in the African Diaspora (Verso Books, 1994).

His essays have appeared in several anthologies and journals, including The Nation, Monthly Review, the Voice Literary Supplement, The New York Times (Arts and Leisure), The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, ColorLines, CODE Magazine, Utne Reader, Lenox Avenue, African Studies Review, Black Music Research Journal, The Journal of American History and Frieze to name a few.

The Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture commemorates the life and work of Ioan Davies (right), journalist, author and professor at York University from 1972 to 2000. Each year, an invited lecturer reinvigorates the links between cultural expression, everyday life and political practice that Davies explored in his research and activism.

For more information, contact Kevin Dowler, professor of communication studies, at or ext. 77871.