Back-to-School @ Tubman

As September is now upon us and the Buxton Homecoming is behind us, it is time to look ahead to the academic year at the Harriet Tubman Institute. It is going to be another exciting one! As you know, Professor Paul Lovejoy finished his 6-year term as Director of Tubman last year and Professor Michele Johnson was appointed for a 5-year term. Michele has a scheduled and well-deserved sabbatical this year; I am Interim Director during Michele’s sabbatical. Along with the Executive Committee and staff at Tubman, we wish Michele a productive and rejuvenating year. Paul is as active as ever with teaching and research at Tubman.

The most important activity this year is the rechartering application for the Tubman Institute. Every research centre at York goes through cyclical reviews and external assessments. This is our opportunity to evaluate the mission and plan for the future of the Institute, as well as articulate the accomplishments of Tubman and its partners. It has become clear from our initial meetings with the office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation (VPRI) that we we may be better known outside the university than within. We will be seeking your input during this process, over the next 3 months. I will use the website, email list, and in-person meetings to solicit your feedback on the future work of the Tubman Institute.

The Harriet Tubman Resource Centre continues to add to its collection. Most recently Greta Coger donated over 2700 books and journals plus various ephemera such as postcards, catalogs, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, journal articles. Her collection is especially strong in African literature. Diane Lee will be cataloging all the items throughout the year. People can check the Resource Centre Catalogue here:

And we hope to continue adding to the Digital Archive ( – if anyone wants to contribute, you are welcome to at any time.

We are also busy with planning upcoming events, workshops and conferences in collaboration with our partners. Keep an eye out for the list of speakers in this year’s Tubman Series (Thursday afternoons) as well as the second year of the graduate student brown bag lunch series (Tuesdays at lunch). Professor Caitlin Fisher and Andrew Roth will be exhibiting the War of 1812 augmented reality scenes developed in collaboration with Tubman during the Land/Slide Possible Futures public art exhibition running Sept 21 – Oct 14, 2013 in Markham, Ontario. Plans are also underway for a conference on “El significado de la negritud / El significado de ser negro; The Meaning of Blackness/ The Significant of Blackness” as the inauguration of the Chair of African and Caribbean Studies the University of Costa Rica on February 3-6, 2014. Other workshops in 2014 include “Perspectives on Historical and Contemporary Ransoming Practices” and “Oral Histories, Digital Humanities and African Diaspora” to be held at the Tubman Institute. And there will be much more!

The annual Tubman Open House will take place Thursday, September 19th from 3-5pm in York Lanes 305. Hope to see you there!

I look forward to working with you.

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