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Global Africa and The Humanities Series

  • Adérónké Adésànyà
  • James Madison University

Black Bodies’ Fragility and Resilience in an Ecology of Hostility 

In a series of new works (paintings, poetry, and drawings), I am responding to climate as the environment and as a metaphor of hostility. The poetry and drawings emanate from and transcend the restiveness that occurred in Nigeria because of EndSARS activism. They also highlight the complicity of the ruling elite in the state violence unleashed on Nigerian youths, and the deaths of some of them at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020. My reflections on the police brutality and hostility in that cultural space connect with those occurring to black bodies in America and in other places. I also began to contemplate on vulnerable species and the environment. Thus, in the paintings, I reference species becoming extinct (such as birds and butterflies), wildfires, space travels, and black women. I am using the images to comment on climate change, hostile cultural climate, and the historical exclusion of and/or assault on black women. The threats to our biosphere, ruptures to inclusion, and the need to promote the culture of tolerance are critical conversations that must be had and be mediated as the world strives to write new chapters and chart new horizons. A central argument in my conversation is that if humanity treats (mother) earth with the tenderness that women require, we just might be able to save our ecosystem for generations unborn. Also, the works advocate that everyone gets dignity, respect, and support for social harmony to be possible.  

Adérónké Adésolá Adésànyà
, art historian, artist, cartoonist, poet and a professional mediator and conciliator is a Professor of Art History at the James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Adésànyà trained at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is a fellow of the Peace and Conflict Studies international program of Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; a laureate of CODESRIA Gender Institute, Dakar, Senegal, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), Nigeria, and current Vice President, African Studies Association, among other professional affiliations. Her publications include Migrations and Creative Expressions in Africa and the African Diasporas, 2008; Etches of Fresh Waters, 2008; Carving Woods, Making History, 2012; Art Parody and Politics, 2013; Akinola Lasekan: Cartooning, Art, and Nationalism at the Dawn of a New Nigeria, 2020, several book chapters, and peer-reviewed journal articles.

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