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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
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September 28, 2020

AMETH professor April Petillo publishes on Black and Native coalition-building

Submitted by Alisa Wolfe

Frontiers Journal Cover (41.2)

This month, April Petillo, assistant professor of American ethnic studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, published two articles in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 

Frontiers is among the oldest and most respected feminist journals in the United States. Both refereed pieces are part of an invited, curated conversation on Indigeneity and the African diaspora for the colloquium, "Sowing the Seeds: Decolonial Practices and Pedagogies." "Sowing the Seeds" explores these topics in transnational feminist discussions, highlighting decolonial coalition-building as a "daily practice."

The colloquium's introduction, "A Hopeful Decolonial Rhizome: An Invitation," was written by Petillo with her co-authors and colloquium co-editors Maia I. Butler, assistant professor of African American literature at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Shylah Pacheco Hamilton, Afrosurrealist filmmaker and chair of the Critical Ethnic Studies Program at California College of the Arts; and Krista L. Benson, assistant professor in the Integrative, Religious, and Inter-cultural Studies, or IRIS, Department at Grand Valley State University. Frontiers journal's editors highlight this invitation as an opportunity for readers to breathe personal justice and coalition-building ethics into their scholarship and other work, regardless of geographical distance.

Petillo's second contribution to "Sowing the Seeds" is "Sketching Arrivantcy: Self-Naming toward Decolonized Solidarity across Indigenous and Black Divides." She asserts that anti-Blackness and anti-Indigenous ideas begun with colonialism impede contemporary coalition-building among Native, Black Native, and Black communities. Petillo then "sketches" a practice of "naming and (re)claiming" our relationships to place and others to address that tension. In doing so, she redefines Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite's concept of the arrivant detailed in his 1973 work, "The Arrivants." Petillo's interdisciplinary piece provides what Frontiers journal's editors describe as "a rich theorization and discussion of the complexities of African American and Indigenous coalition-building" in practice.

Petillo's courses, Native Hip Hop and Comparative Ethnic Studies, regularly touch on these topics.


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