Transatlantic Exchange: African Americans And The Celtic Nations

An International Conference Held At Swansea University, Wednesday March 27 - Friday March 30, 2007.

"The connections between the slave trade and its abolition in the United States and England have been amply documented. Those between African Americans and Celtic peoples and cultures, however, remain under-explored. The Transatlantic Exchange conference, arranged by the innovative Centre of Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales at Swansea, was a most welcome event, filling a void that most of us did not even know existed!"

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University.

In his introduction to the thirtieth anniversary edition of Invisible Man Ralph Ellison described the gestation of his seminal novel and recalled publishing a story entitled ‘In a Strange Country’  ‘in which a young African American seaman, ashore in Swansea, South Wales, was forced to grapple with the troublesome ‘American’ aspects of his identity.’

This conference – which took place in Ellison’s ‘strange country’ and in the town where he was stationed during the Second World War - grappled with some of the ‘troublesome’ aspects of African American and Celtic identities, and explored moments of interaction, of correspondence, of hostility and of attraction between cultural traditions.  To evoke the idea of a ‘Celtic’ or ‘African American’ identity is already to invite controversy.  The conference sought, however, to encourage transatlantic approaches that moved out of self-enclosed, exceptionalist, models in exploring specific moments of interaction that are often completely ignored when a merely ‘British’ or ‘American’ perspective is brought to bear. 

Further information can be accessed here:

Conference Programme

Sponsors and supporters

Keynote speakers and Musicians


Speaker Biographies