The University of Iowa

Obermann symposium explores history of slavery and gender Oct. 13-15

September 30th, 2010

Obermann symposium

The 2010 Obermann Humanities Symposium, “Causes and Consequences: Global Perspectives on Gender and the History of Slavery,” will bring a variety of scholars to campus Wednesday Oct. 13 through Friday, Oct. 15. The scholars will explore slavery and gender and how their two complex histories have intersected in a range of time periods.

The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, UI International Programs and UI Libraries are sponsoring the symposium.

Two keynote lectures will kick off the symposium Wednesday, Oct. 13. Sue Peabody will present the first lecture “Why Scholars Study Slavery” at noon in 302 Schaeffer Hall. Peabody is currently the Edward R. Meyer Professor of Liberal Arts at Washington State University in Vancouver, and she received her doctorate in history from the UI.

Joseph C. Miller, the T. Cary Johnson Jr. Professor of History at the University of Virginia, will present the second lecture titled “Misleading Modernities: Problematizing Slavery and Gender in History,” at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct, 13, in 1117 University Capitol Centre.

“This ground-breaking conference maps a new global history of slavery, reminding us that to understand where we find ourselves in the present, we need to know far more about the past,” said Teresa Mangum, director of the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and associate professor of English in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS).

The symposium will feature three panel discussions Thursday and Friday, Oct. 14 and 15, all in 1117 University Capitol Centre, on issues such as sexuality, reproduction and the larger theme of the missing gaps in the history of slavery and gender. Though registration is free, it is required to attend the panels. To register, visit

“We are delighted to have such an impressive group of slavery scholars coming to our campus,” said Leslie Schwalm, symposium co-organizer. “Each has made important contributions to our understanding of how gender—as an ideology and a set of practices—has shaped the structure and experience of slavery.”
Schwalm in also a professor in the following departments: history; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; and African American studies, all in CLAS.

Two other events will be offered in conjunction with but prior to the symposium, both free and open to the public. These events will provide opportunities for campus and community members to learn more about the history of slavery.

The first screening of the “Slavery in Global Cinema” film series will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, in Room 2520D of the University Capitol Centre with the film “Adanggaman.” The Friday, Oct. 8 “WorldCanvass” program will focus on gender and slavery and will be recorded live with host Joan Kjaer from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol.

“The intersection between slavery and gender necessarily has a global dimension, even if it takes different forms in particular national contexts,” said Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of International Programs. “This event will help us understand both that global dimension and those local contexts.”

A full schedule of events for the symposium can be found at To learn more about the “Slavery in Global Cinema” film series and the Oct. 8 “WorldCanvass” program, visit

For more information or special accommodations to attend any of these events, contact at 319-335-2299 or