All US Come Cross the Water: Diasporic Ecological Practices & Intergenerational Relations (ASWAD 2025)

deadline for submissions: 
August 16, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora
contact email: 

This panel seeks papers for the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora’s (ASWAD) 12th Biennial and 25th Anniversary Conference that will be held in Saint Louis, Missouri at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel from October 29th thru November 2, 2025. This year’s conference “I’ve known rivers”: The Ecologies of Black Life and Resistance” centers “the river, and waterways, as an analytical framework for Black lives past and present.” Water “serves as a prompt for urgent questions about landscapes and ecologies as well as diasporic ruptures, spiritual practices, labors of many kinds, fugitivity and resistance” (ASWAD CFP). 

The title of this proposed interdisciplinary panel is inspired by poet and writer Lucille Clifton’s children’s book All Us Come Cross the Water (1973) with acclaimed children’s book illustrator John Steptoe. Clifton and Steptoe create scenes of intergenerational instruction between the central character Ujamaa, his teacher Miss Wills, his Big Mama, and his “grown man friend” Twiggy, who works at the Black Panther Store. In a climatic scene of instruction, Ujamaa learns the significance of water as a site of collective memory and birth. Dionne Brand, describing her childhood in Trinidad in A Map to the Door of No Return writes: “Water is the first thing in my  imagination. Over the reaches of the eyes at Guaya when I was a little girl, I knew that there was still more water” (A Map 6). 

This panel seeks papers that explore the relationship between age, water,  intergenerational relations and ecological practices within the African Diaspora. This panel reads intergenerational practice capaciously. While seeking papers that center ecological relations and practices across the boundaries of age, I am also interested in how intergenerational exchange between scholars, artists and activists contributes to black ecological thought and practice.  


Possible topics (including, but not limited to):

-the centrality of water in Diasporic stories of birth and childhood 

-water as a location of intergenerational memory and instruction in film, literature, activism and art of the African Diaspora

-exchange between children/youth and adults to construct ecological memory and navigate contemporary ecological crises 

-the impact of ecological crises on intergenerational knowledge production and ecological practices  

- the impact of the environmental/ecological thought of literary, intellectual and artistic predecessors on contemporary scholars, writers, activists and artists.  

- frameworks for child and youth led environmental practices and acts of resistance

Please submit a short bio and abstracts of no more than 500 words to Dr. Samira Abdur-Rahman, Assistant Professor of Literature & The Environment via email by August 16, 2024.