A Roundtable Discussion on Disciplinarity and Belonging


What? A roundtable discussion on disciplinarity and belonging

When? April 23rd, 11am1pm Pacific (2pm Eastern, 8pm Central European)

Who? Hiju Kim, April Renée Lynch, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Angelica Pesarini, SA Smythe, and Gaoheng Zhang, with the Italian Studies Antiracist Actions Group at UC Berkeley

As graduate student members of the Italian Studies Antiracist Actions Group at UC Berkeley, we aim to grow, via concrete actions, a culture of accountability around race and racism in our scholarly endeavors and communities, and build antiracist resistance and solidarity. A first step is coming together and sharing a diversity of perspectives on what it means to do the work that we do.

Please join us for a roundtable conversation with six scholars of color, working in or nearby Italian Studies. We are thinking about, and will be asking our guests about:

  • What are the limits of disciplinarity (especially with respect to Italian Studies and other area studies)?
  • What do you think about those limits and how do you challenge them?
  • What motivates your work, and what broader impacts do you hope to effect?
  • Do you experience belonging by way of your work, and if so how?


Register in advance for this webinar:


Gaoheng Zhang is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of British Columbia. He researches broadly on Italy’s global history and connections using a cultural-studies approach. His more recent works address migration and mobilities in relation to Italian-Chinese exchanges, the longest-standing “West-East” communications in written record. His first book is titled Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012 (University of Toronto Press, 2019), which is the first detailed media and cultural study of the Chinese migration from both Italian and Chinese migrant perspectives, as well as one of the few book-length analyses of migration and culture. His new book project is tentatively titled “Migration and Material Culture: Mobility between China and Italy, 1980s-2010s” (under contract with University of Toronto Press), which uses the Chinese set expression of clothing-food-residence-mobilities to frame analyses of Chinese migrant cultures in Italy and Italian migrants and cultures in China.


SA Smythe (they [ENG] / lui [ITA]) is a poet, translator, and assistant professor of Black European Cultural Studies, Contemporary Mediterranean Studies, and Black Trans Poetics at UCLA. One facet of Smythe’s research is about relational aspects of Black belonging beyond borders. This is represented by their forthcoming edited volume titled Troubling the Grounds: Global Configurations of Blackness, Nativism, and Indigeneity, and their first book project, Where Blackness Meets the Sea: On Crisis, Culture, and the Black Mediterranean. Another facet of Smythe’s work is about Black trans poesis (that is, poetics and the philosophy of creation/creativity related to Black trans theory, reading praxis, and embodiment). Forthcoming in that vein are two articles in TSQ and Palimpsest, and a full volume of poetry titled proclivity, which centers around Smythe’s a familial history of Black migration (between Britain, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Italy), trans embodiment, and Black emancipation. Smythe is a statewide and national coordinating committee member of the faculty wing of California Cops Off Campus (UCFTP) and organizes with other abolitionist/anti-carceral groups across Turtle Island and Europe around QTIPOC detention, migrants, and refugees.


Angelica Pesarini is a scholar working on the intersections of race, gender, citizenship and identity in Italy. She was awarded a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds. Before going back to Italy, in 2017, Angelica worked at Lancaster University as a Lecturer in Gender, Race and Sexuality. She currently teaches Black Italia at NYU Florence as an affiliate of the Social and Cultural Analysis Department. Angelica’s work investigates dynamics of race performativity with a focus on colonial and postcolonial Italy and she is also interested in the racialization of the Italian political discourse on immigration. She has previously conducted research on gender roles and the development of economic activities within some Roma communities in Italy, and has analysed strategies of survival, risks and opportunities associated with male prostitution in Rome. Active in anti-racist fights, Angelica is the author of several publications on issues of race in Italy, both in English and Italian.


Barbara Ofosu-Somuah is an educational equity researcher, writer, and emerging Italian-to-English translator, from Accra, Ghana, and the Bronx, New York. As a translator, she attempts to bring the works of contemporary Afro-Italian writers to English-speaking audiences. She has received both Thomas J. Watson and Fulbright research fellowships to investigate the racialized lived experiences of Black people, primarily womxn, across the African diaspora. During her Fulbright year, she collaborated with various Black Italian organizations/collectives as they unpacked the reality of concurrently embodying Blackness and Italianness in a culture that perceives both identities as incompatible. She is currently co-translating Future. Il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi (Futures. Tomorrow Narrated by the Voices of Today), the first literary anthology by black Italian womxn, edited by Igiaba Scego. Ofosu-Somuah has a bachelor of arts in sociology, psychology, and Italian, from Middlebury College.


April Renée Lynch received her PhD from the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and UC Berkeley, in 2013 at age 58. Her dissertation, “Spirituality of Beauty in the Art of Artemisia Gentileschi and Elisabetta Sirani,” developed from archival research in Rome, resides in the libraries of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC and the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library of the GTU. Dr. Lynch is an autobiographical essayist whose thoroughgoing logophilic sense, the Sprachegefühl, enriches the literary project that is her experience as a female African American Italian Renaissance and Baroque-era art historian, with an abiding understanding of American contemporary politics and race relations, who has undergone severe mental health challenges. Her essays have appeared in Midnight and Indigo and Smart History, and she was a recent guest of the podcast WGBD: When God is Black & Disabled. Dr. Lynch wrote «L’ eredita’ di Due Uomini Pubblici e Privati» for Middlebury College as an hommage to Malcolm X and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during Black History Month, February 2021. Her public speaking on painters of the Italian Renaissance, the Italian Baroque, and other eras interweaves the ageless truth of art with a history of psychological disability and internment in mental hospitals. April Renée Lynch is a former mental health counselor, who has served the homeless and underserved in her home community of Sonoma County California.


Hiju Kim is a PhD candidate in Italian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a Korean-American immigrant with a background in South Korean and Italian culture, Hiju Kim has worked for curatorial and education departments at The Wende Museum of Cold War, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), through the J. Paul Getty Multicultural Internship. Currently, she works as a freelance editor and translator for online Korean-American media outlets. Her scholarly interests include film, Italian literature, South Korean media, postmodern aesthetics, and transcultural identities.