Afronautic Research Lab, AAPR at Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Photo: Garrett Elliott.

After “Arts Against Postracialism”

Dr. Philip S. S. Howard and Camille Turner : Installation, Performance, Conversation

November 9 - 10, 2018

To celebrate the first anniversary of the traveling project Arts Against Postracialism, we welcome Dr. Philip Howard, professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University and Camille Turner, multidisciplinary artist, to review the project, the exhibition and their results. The occasion will also be highlighted by the presentation of Camille Turner’s Afronautic Research Lab.


Led by Dr. Philip Howard in collaboration with artist/curator Camille Turner in 2017, The Arts Against Postracialism: Strengthening Resistance Against Contemporary Canadian Blackface is a SSHRC-funded knowledge mobilization initiative that challenged blackface and postracialism by supporting efforts to challenge them on several Canadian University campuses. This initiative built on Howard’s earlier research that investigated instances of blackface as they occur in the contemporary moment in Canada, and which argues that this problematic phenomenon is rooted in Canadian settler-colonial relations in their anti-black iterations.

The Afronautic Research Lab uses performance and social practice art to bring participants into contact with archival and documentary evidence revealing the roots of anti-Blackness in and beyond Canada. The Afronauts are inspired by the stories of the Dogon people of Mali. These space travellers left earth 10,000 years ago and have returned to their home planet to save it. They invite citizen researchers into their Afronautic Research Lab, a dark reading room where primary archival materials such as 18th century Canadian newspapers containing ads posted by Canadian slave owners can be contemplated using flash lights and magnifying glasses. An audio loop provides a sonic guide to the social history in which this evidence emerges. The lab enables a reflection on how the past has shaped the present and point to the future.


Philip S. S. Howard is Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University.  He works in the areas of critical race studies, anti-colonial studies, and Black Canadian Studies/anti-Blackness in education.  His broad interests are in the social relations, pedagogical processes, and epistemological frames that mediate the ways we come to know ourselves, create community, and exercise agency in/against formal, non-formal and informal educational spaces.  His current research projects investigate the contemporary Canadian blackface as a postracialist phenomenon, and Black people’s agency in educational contexts in Toronto, Halifax, and Montreal.

Camille Turner is an explorer of race, space, home and belonging. Born in Jamaica and currently based in Toronto, her work combines Afrofuturism and historical research. Her interventions, installations and public engagements have been presented throughout Canada and internationally. Camille graduated from Ontario College of Art and Design and York University’s Masters in Environmental Studies program where she is currently a PhD candidate.