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Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness:

A Documentary Screening and Discussion

April 2, 2010 | 1:45 - 3:30 p.m.| Location: Minor Hall, Room 125

View the video of this session here.


Who has the power to know, describe, and define your cultural identity? Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness (2009) is a beautifully crafted documentary about how anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits redefined black history, making it possible for a people formerly despised as "Negroes" to configure themselves with pride as African-Americans.

Herskovits himself was not black; he was a white man of Jewish ancestry. But he acquired the power to remake the historical understanding of black people, and in the process engaged in conflicts with black scholars and white institutions of the day and helped to propel African-Americans' struggle against white supremacy. The film incorporates rarely seen archival footage, provocative animation, photo montage, and interviews with leading scholars of race and culture.

Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness is the winner of the Best Documentary award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival and Beyond the Box's Critics' Pick for one of the Top 25 Documentaries of the Decade.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers, and a light reception.

Watch an excerpt from the documentary here.

(Please note that this session will run until approximately 3:30 p.m.)


Hosted by the University of Virginia Department of Anthropology, in collaboration with

the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African-American and African Studies, the American Studies Program, the Corcoran Department of History, the Jewish Studies Program, the Media Studies Department, Studies in Women and Gender, and the Virginia Anthropology Society.