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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 26, 2005

'West Side Story' Launches CDA Film And Lecture Series Jan. 28

The Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program (CDA), a program sponsored by University of Iowa International Programs, will kick off its spring 2005 film and lecture series at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28 with "Westside Story" in Room 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building. A faculty commentary will follow each movie screening.

Produced in 1961, "West Side Story" is an all-time classic that has won 10 Academy awards. The film is a musical about warring gangs composed of ethnic white Americans -- the Jets, who are on their way to becoming the All-Americans, a sacred identity, and the Puerto Ricans, the Sharks. The film broaches the issues of territoriality, marked by race, class and gender, played out through song and dance. The movie's stereotypical depiction of the Puerto Rican community provoked a hue and cry from the community when it was first released. All of this is staged against a historical moment when Puerto Ricans, through dislocations on the island, were migrating in large numbers to the United States, becoming a pivotal presence in U.S. sociocultural space.

The series of eight films and lectures, which are free and open to the public, will explore different aspects of the diaspora, an emergent interdisciplinary area, explained CDA director Michaeline Crichlow.

"The talks are an enquiry into the historical specificities of non-Westerners and direct our attention to invisible or silenced aspects of the human condition," said Crichlow. The lectures open discussion on the diaspora by exploring the historical processes related to identity and how people maneuver between and within representations accorded to them, she added. 

The films complement the issues brought up in the lectures by highlighting how the representation of people have shaped people1s histories, at the same time providing them with the material to affirm themselves as being in and beings of this world.

The schedule of films and lectures is as follows:

FILMS (All screenings begin at 3 p.m. at Room 101, Becker Communication Studies Building)

3-5:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 28 "Westside Story"

3-4:15 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11 "The Last Angel of History"

3-5:30 p.m., Friday, March  25 "Rabbit-proof Fence"

3-4:30 p.m., Friday, April 22 "Afro Argentines"


4:30-5:20 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3 Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library

"Identity and Diaspora: Cuban Culture at the Crossroads" by UI professor Adriana Mendez of the Spanish and Portuguese department

4:30-5:20 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24 Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library

"Modernity, Tran nationalism and the Haitian Revolution" by New York University professor Michael Dash of the French and Africana Studies Program

4:30-5:50 p.m., Thursday, March 31 Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library

"The Whole World is Creole and so are Diasporas: In Defense of an E-Bay Imaginary" by UI professor Michaeline Crichlow of the Africa American World Studies Program

5-6:30 p.m., Monday, April 4 Room 1505, Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences

3A Distant Shore - A Reading by Columbia University professor Caryl Phillips, Henry R. Luce Professor of Migration and Social Order and an internationally acclaimed, prize-winning author

Individuals of all abilities are welcome to attend the film and lecture series. To arrange for special accommodations or to find out more about the events, please contact Michaeline Crichlow at 319-335-1304 or

This Program has been made possible through the generous support of International Programs, and the following: UI Departments of English, Spanish and Portuguese, French and Italian, African American World Studies, Cinema and Comparative Literature, History, the UI Center for Human Rights, and the African Studies Program.

The Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program is a group of Faculty and graduate students from a range of disciplines, who study the Caribbean and Brazil. The interests of individual group members share a focus on the African, European, South Asian, and Caribbean diasporas created through migrations of people to and from the Caribbean and through trade routes linked historically to the emergence and expansion of the Atlantic economy.

The concept of diaspora in reference to the Caribbean thus extends beyond the geographical limits of the Atlantic to include, for example, the South Asian and Chinese diasporas.

International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Michaeline Crichlow, 319-335-1304,; Writer: Po Li Loo