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Workshop 17: Race, Regionalism, and Rhetoric

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)

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Workshop Leaders:

Kundai Chirindo, Lewis & Clark College:
Dave Tell, University of Kansas:

This workshop invites scholars to consider their projects in light of the relations among race, regions, and rhetoric.

While rhetoricians have long been aware of rhetoric’s relations to space, recent developments call for renewed attention to the ways rhetoric and (counter)regionalism are implicated in the politics of race, ethnicity, and citizenship. Take, as examples, recent appeals to neo-nationalist, ethnonationalist, racist, or xenophobic sentiments on two continents: North America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the U.S. whether in the discourses of White nationalist “SIEGERS,” “State of Jefferson” cessationists, or through talk about “the South,” the politics of race, ethnicity, citizenship and region are seared into the DNA of American politics. The nexus of race, ethnicity, nation and region is apparent, for instance, in the nationalization of ethnicities (the Kikuyu or Luo in Kenya), or the ethnicization of state apparatuses in sub-Saharan Africa. These situations compel us to inquire after rhetoric’s role in how claims about regions both affect and are affected by ideas of race, ethnicity, citizenship, and nation. This workshop will do exactly that; workshop sessions will engage the following questions:

What contributions does rhetorical studies make to understanding the intersections of regionalism and race? What ideas about regions and race circulate in the conversational spaces of rhetorical studies (e.g., publications and classrooms)?

What can controversies and ideas about “the American South” and the Mississippi Delta tell us about the study of race, regionalism, and rhetoric?

Third, how are race, rhetoric, and regionalism figured in ideas about Africa that circulate in American public life?

Another workshop goal is to advance participants’ progress on their own projects. We welcome participants at every stage of the writing process (including those whose projects are, at present, little more than ideas). Each participant will be asked to share a brief summary of work-in-progress for peer review.

Kundai Chirindo Kundai Chirindo is Associate Professor in the Rhetoric and Media Studies department at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. A rhetorical scholar interested in discourses that relate to the African continent, Kundai’s work centers on discursive practices that contest, contribute to, and ultimately constitute ideas of Africa in American public life. Through exploring these themes, he contributes to scholarly conversations in rhetorical studies, environmental communication, African and African American Studies, and war and peace studies. His critical essays, commentaries, and book reviews have appeared in Advances in the History of Rhetoric (now Journal for the History of Rhetoric), Argumentation & Advocacy, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Women’s Studies in Communication, and in edited volumes.

Dave Tell Dave Tell is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Confessional Crises and Cultural Politics in Twentieth-Century America (Penn State University Press, 2012) and Remembering Emmett Till (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Remembering Emmett Till was listed as a 2019 book of the year by the Economist and winner of the Mississippi Historical Society’s 2020 McLemore Prize. Professor Tell is a former fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a codirector of the Emmett Till Memory Project. His writing on the Till murder has been published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, LitHub and a wide range of academic journals. He is a past president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and the inaugural Public Humanities Officer for the Rhetoric Society of America.

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