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African-American studies director Valerie Babb to discuss legacy of slaver ship Wanderer

Valerie Babb

Athens, Ga. – Valerie Babb, director of the University of Georgia Institute for African American Studies, will give a lecture on “In the Footfalls of Diaspora: Reflections on the Wanderer” March 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the Ciné Lab, 234 W. Hancock Ave. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Babb’s talk will be the last in the six-part Global Georgia Initiative, a series of lectures and conversations organized by the UGA Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

Babb is a professor of English in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Her research is primarily focused on constructions of race and gender in American and African-American literature and culture. She is the author of “Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture” and “Ernest Gaines” and the co-author of “Black Georgetown Remembered.”

The Wanderer was a converted luxury vessel that, in 1858, brought 409 Africans from the region of present-day Angola to the Georgia coast to be sold into slavery. The voyage took place nearly 50 years after the passage of the federal Slave Importation Act, which made the foreign slave trade illegal in the U.S.

“Nothing has crystallized the complexities of diaspora for me more than researching the Wanderer, a New York Yacht Club pleasure ship that became a slaver and brought Congolese humans into chattel slavery when it landed on Jekyll Island, Ga.,” said Babb. “My talk will reflect upon the many reconsiderations of diaspora’s significance brought about by my trying to discover who those enslaved might have been and the ways they attempted to pass on their story.”

Barbara McCaskill, associate professor of English in the Franklin College and co-director of the Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative, will introduce Babb’s lecture.

The goal of the Global Georgia Initiative is to present global problems in local context by addressing pressing contemporary questions—including the economy, society and the environment—with a focus on how the arts and humanities can intervene. For more information, see For more information on Ciné, see

Willson Center for Humanities and Arts
The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research. In the service of its mission to promote research and creativity in the humanities and arts, the Willson Center sponsors and participates in numerous public events on and off the UGA campus throughout the academic year. It supports faculty through research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars, visiting artists, collaborative instruction, public conferences, exhibitions and performances. For more information, see