'Critical Juncture' conference examines role of art in challenging identity

By April Hunt | Emory Report | March 14, 2017

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Scholars who cross traditional boundaries of academic disciplines unite at Emory this week for Critical Juncture 2017. Keynote speakers include (clockwise from top let) Bettina L. Love, discussing hip hop civics and intersectional justice; Kate Winskell, addressing films and public health; Karen Parker, addressing interdisciplinary approaches to NIH grants; and Ken Hornbeck, exploring theater and representation. Debra Vidali, who speaks with Hornbeck, is not pictured.

Scholars from around the globe who cross traditional boundaries of academic disciplines will come to Emory this week to again discuss their work in a uniting forum.

Critical Juncture 2017: The Work of Art will take place March 17–18 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, with a focus on using art to draw attention to or resist injustices created in the construction of disability, race, gender and other identities.

Now in its fourth year, the conference includes keynote programs from four leaders in the arts, non-governmental organizations and academia. As with the rest of the program, the four keynote seminars will explore how to leverage scholarship and arts for social justice efforts.

"Films and Public Health: Linking Theory to Practice" features Kate Winskell, a cultural historian and professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, discussing her work with partner Daniel Enger on Global Dialogues and Scenarios from Africa. Both projects feature short fiction films on HIV-related subjects by African directors.

For "Intersectionality: A Grant-Thinking Workshop," Karen Parker, director of the NIH’s new Sexual and Gender Minorities Research Office, will be joined by Atlanta-area academics and activists to discuss interdisciplinary approaches toward developing NIH grant proposals that are focused on the health and wellness of queer people.

"Get Free: Hip Hop Civics & Intersectional Justice" features Bettina L. Love, a professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia, leading a session on her work exploring how urban youth forge identities through hip hop music and culture.

The fourth keynote, "Constructing Realties: Theatre and Representation," includes actor, director and playwright Ken Hornbeck, whose work explores topics including HIV/AIDS and early pregnancy prevention, diversity, decision-making and abuse. Joining Hornbeck will be joined by Debra Vidali, a professor in the Emory Department of Anthropology, where her research focuses on civic engagement, human expression, and the frontiers of ethnography. 

Thee conference also features Art@Work, an evening program that showcases short films, spoken word and other forms of art. Organized by Laney Graduate School students, the program is sponsored by the Institute of Liberal Arts, Emory Disability Studies Initiative, the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Office of the Provost and several Emory College academic departments.

The conference is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events and speakers, visit the Critical Juncture website.