Professor Emeritus Abdul Alkalimat will give the keynote presentation at the 30th Symposium on African American Culture and Philosophy, which will be held from December 1-3 at Purdue University. This year's symposium will explore the "humanity" in the digital humanities as well as Africana/Black studies' perspectives.
In his talk, "The Sankofa Principle: From the Drum to the Digital," Alkalimat will present the results of twenty years of scholarship regarding how digital information technology can change the field of African American Studies.
"Sankofa is a Twi word from Ghana that means 'go back and fetch it,' emphasizing the role of a historical perspective in epistemology," Alkalimat said. His talk will compare the similarities and differences in the drum and the computer, both being code-generating tools. "Included in this talk will be a discussion of three values that are fundamental to advancing social justice: cyberdemocracy (everyone being connected), collective intelligence, and information freedom."
Alkalimat is a professor emeritus in the iSchool and the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois. He has taught courses addressing the digital divide, Black people and information technology, and African American bibliography.
He is the author of several books, including Introduction to Afro-American Studies, The African American Experience in Cyberspace, and Malcolm X for Beginners. His most recent book, coauthored with iSchool Associate Professor Kate Williams, is Roots and Flowers: The Life and Work of the AfroCuban Librarian Marta Terry Gonzalez (2015). A pioneer of eBlack studies, Alkalimat curates two important websites related to African American history, Malcolm X: A Research Site and eBlack Studies. He moderated the largest African American studies discussion list, H-Afro-Am, from 1998 to 2014. His research interests include digital inequality, community informatics, and African American Intellectual history.