Black Indian Ocean Series

Hiba Ali

The Black Indian Ocean Reading Series by Hiba Ali visualizes the histories and futures of African descent communities in the Indian Ocean region through curated film screenings and generative pedagogy.

To follow along with the Series, follow us on Substack here.

Past events

Friday 28 May 2021,  12pm – 1:30pm EST 

Lecture and Discussion: Seeds of the Braced Bow with Nkosenathi Ernie Koela , Beheroze Shroff, and Jazmin Graves, Moderated by Hiba Ali

The third and momentary concluding event of the Black Indian Ocean Series entitled Seeds of the Braced Bow features Nkosenathi Ernie Koela’s dissertation on the shared heritage of musical braced bow, known as the Malunga, Chitende and uMaKhweyana, from India, Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal /Swaziland. Akin to the germination of airborne seeds as they travel, Koela delineates how ancient African practices of sagacity travel far and wide as a living piece of memory through the music of the global African diaspora. The conversation will include Nkosenathi Ernie Koela, Beheroze Shroff and Jazmin Graves and will be moderated by Hiba Ali.

Pedagogical reading:

Highly recommended: Nkosenathi Ernie Koela, Introduction chapter (page 1-37), ‘Seeds of the Braced Bow’ (The Flower, the Seed and the Bee), Faculty of Humanities ,College of Music, University of Cape Town, Link.

 Highly recommended: Jazmin Graves, Through the Eyes of the Lyre: A Transoceanic Perspective on the Sidi Sufi Devotional Tradition of Western India, published in the African Diasporan Communities across South Asia Series Volume 2.

Register in advance for this meeting here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Film Screening: Familiar Faces/Unexpected Places: A Global African Diaspora by Sheila S. Walker 

Friday 23 April 2021, 7pm – 8:30pm EST

For the second event of the Black Indian Ocean Series, we will screen Sheila S. Walker documentary, Familiar Faces/Unexpected Places: A Global African Diaspora, that examines the continued presences and cultural practices of the African diaspora in the Americas and the Indian Ocean region. The Screening will be followed by a discussion guided by the assigned readings with Janelle Miller and Sheila Walker and will be moderated by Hiba Ali. 

Pedagogical reading (download here):

Sheila S. Walker, Milestones and Arrows: A Cultural Anthropologist Discovers the Global African Diaspora, 2015


Film Screening: Voices of the Sidis, Indians of African Descent (2004 – 2012) by Beheroze Shroff

Friday 19 March 19th 2021, 7pm – 8:30pm EST

Missed Connections kicks off in March 2021 with the first public event from Hiba Ali’s The Black Indian Ocean Series. The inaugural event is a film screening of Beheroze Shroff’s compilation documentary, Voices of the Sidis, Indians of African Descent (2004- 2012), which features the Sidi community of Gujarat and examines the intangible cultural heritage of African descent communities. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Beheroze Shroff and Jazmin Graves, moderated by Hiba Ali.

Pedagogical readings assigned (download here):

  • Highly recommended: Shroff, Beheroze, Indians of African Descent, History and Contemporary Experience, 2009
  • Recommended: Alpers, Edward A., Africa and Africans in the Making of Early Modern India, 2016

Hiba Ali is a digital artist, educator, scholar, DJ, experimental music producer and curator based across Chicago, IL, Austin, TX, and Toronto, ON. Their performances and videos concern surveillance, womxn/ womyn of colour, and labour. She studies geographies of East African, South Asian and Arab communities across the Indian Ocean region through music, cloth and ritual. They conduct reading groups addressing digital media and workshops with open-source technologies. She is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. They are an Assistant Professor of Art, New Media Artist/Feminist Art Discourse, College of Design, Art & Technology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. She has presented their work in Chicago, Stockholm, Vienna, Berlin, Toronto, New York, Istanbul, São Paulo, Detroit, Windsor, Dubai, Austin, Vancouver, and Portland. They have written for C Magazine, THE SEEN Magazine, Newcity Chicago, Art Dubai, The State, VAM Magazine, ZORA: Medium, RTV Magazine, and Topical Cream Magazine.

Collaborators of The Black Indian Ocean Reading Series:

Beheroze Shroff is a documentary film maker and long time scholar of Sidis. Shroff teaches in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Born in Bombay, Shroff obtained her Master’s in English Literature from the University of Bombay and went on to obtain an MFA–Master of Fine Arts Degree in Film Production at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has made five documentaries on contemporary African descended Sidis of Gujarat, their culture and spiritual practice. Shroff was introduced to the spiritual legacy of the Sidis of Gujarat and their ancestral saint Bava Gor, from the age of seven, by her parents who became devotees of Sidi saint Bava Gor. Shroff has published widely in several journals and anthologies on different aspects of contemporary Sidi life, in Gujarat, India. Most recently, in 2020, Shroff has co-edited a three volume publication titled Afro-South Asia in the Global African Diaspora, which explores the ways in which Africans and people of African descent have shaped and been shaped by the histories, cultures, and societies of South Asia. Her documentaries have been shown at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Commonwealth Institute London, the Schomburg Library and Museum of Black Culture in New York, the Pan African Film Festivals in Los Angeles and at the Nairobi and Zanzibar International Arts, Music and Film Festivals, among others.

Jazmin Graves (she/her) is a Thurgood Marshall Fellow in the African and African American Studies Program at Dartmouth College and a PhD candidate in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, “Songs to the African Saints of India,” studies the African diaspora in western India through the lens of Afro-Indian devotional music and rituals. A Junior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies supported her ethnographic and archival research in India from 2018-2019. In 2018, Jazmin was named one of the MIPAD Global Top 100 Most Influential People of African Descent Under 40.

Sheila S Walker, PhD, cultural anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, has done fieldwork, lectured, and participated in intellectual and cultural events in most of Africa and the Global African Diaspora. She is Executive Director of Afrodiaspora, Inc., the goal of which is to educate the public about the Global African Diaspora. Her book, African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas, has a companion documentary, Scattered Africa: Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora. Her book, Conocimiento desde adentro: Los afro-sudamericanos hablan de sus pueblos y sus historias/Conhecimento desde dentro: Os afro-sul-americanos falam de seus povos e suas histórias/Knowledge from the Inside: Afro-South Americans Speak of their People and their Histories (in Spanish and Portuguese), features chapters by Afrodescendants from all the Spanish-speaking countries in South America. Her most recent documentary is Familiar Faces/Unexpected Places: A Global African Diaspora, which was shown at the United Nations as the 2018 Black History Month program for the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, and was sent for showings at UN Information Centers in the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe

Janelle Ayana Miller is a grandchild of the Great Migration, a Midwesterner with Southern inflection. Her practice is rooted within familial and communal aesthetics, looking deeply into bridging self and time as an act of place-making while using modes of collage, found objects, film, food, and photography. Miller has programmed film screenings at filmfront and 6018NORTH.

The Black Indian Ocean Series is funded by SAVAC and the Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences and Humanities.

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