Pryor Center's Spring Lecture Series Concludes with Presentation by Caree A. Banton

Caree Banton
University Relations

Caree Banton

The Pryor Center Presents lecture series presented by the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences concludes on Wednesday, April 21, with "Elections and Identity Politics: Interrogating Group Belonging in Black and White Republics" featuring Caree A. Banton, associate professor of African diaspora history and the director of the African and African American Studies Program.

The lecture will be held at 6 p.m. via Zoom and registration is required. 

The 1903 Liberian presidential election left many with a lingering question: "Who is this man and from whence comes he to rule?" What many deemed as odd was that the newly elected leader had "come not from the land of our forefather's nativity to fill that exalted post of the executive chair." The new president, Arthur Barclay, though also Black like his predecessors, had migrated to Liberia in 1865 from Barbados rather than the United States. 

This is hardly the only instance where elections have raised these questions. Across the Atlantic world, the cultural pathologies around identity politics tend to emerge at the height of political campaigning. That questions about Barack Obama's and Kamala Harris' heritage emerged in their campaigns highlights the ways in which race, ethnicity, origins and indigeneity has shaped public discourse about identity politics. These upheavals expose long-standing fractures around race, class, national, religious and gender identities whose social and historical meanings are still unfolding. 

Banton received an M.A. in development studies from the University of Ghana in July 2012 and completed her doctoral work at Vanderbilt University in June 2013. Her research focuses on movements around abolition, emancipation and colonization as well as ideas of citizenship, blackness and nationhood in the 19th century. Her research has been supported by a number of fellowships, including the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Lapidus Center Fellowship at the Schomburg Center and the Nancy Weiss Malkiel Fellowship for exceptional scholarship and participation in service activities.

Banton teaches classes in Caribbean History, African Diaspora History, and race. She is a member of the U of Ar Teaching Academy and has been named a Master Teacher in Fulbright College. Her book, More Auspicious Shores: Barbadian Migration to Liberia, Blackness, and the Making of the African Republic, which explores continuities and mutabilities in black experiences of freedom, citizenship and nationhood across the Atlantic world was published by Cambridge University Press in May 2019. Banton is currently working on a collaborative project with an archaeologist that explores the materials, objects and architecture of the back-to-Africa movement.

About the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History: The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History is an oral history program with the mission to document the history of Arkansas through the collection of spoken memories and visual records, preserve the collection in perpetuity, and connect Arkansans and the world to the collection through the Internet, TV broadcasts, educational programs, and other means. The Pryor Center records audio and video interviews about Arkansas history and culture, collects other organizations' recordings, organizes these recordings into an archive, and provides public access to the archive, primarily through the website at The Pryor Center is the state's only oral and visual history program with a statewide, seventy-five county mission to collect, preserve, and share audio and moving image recordings of Arkansas history.

About the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with three schools, 16 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students. 

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 3 percent of of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


William A. Schwab, executive director
Pryor Center

Andra Parrish Liwag, director of communications
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences


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