Expressive Cultures of the African Diaspora

Supervisor's Name Paul E. Lovejoy
Supervisor Email Address*
Supervisor's Department History
Project Title Expressive Cultures of the African Diaspora
Description of Research Project
The Project on “Expressive Cultures of the African Diaspora” explores how cultural expression in the modern world has been transformed through the aesthetic energies of people of African descent. The central research question is why people of African background have been subjected to racist discrimination when their impact on culture through the arts, music, dance, painting, sculpture, theatre, and the rituals of religion and mythology have been so profound, and in some areas of culture, overwhelming? How can we achieve any measure of social justice without confronting this fundamental contradiction? The proposed analysis of expressive cultures brings together world-leading historians, digital humanists, theorists, computer scientists, technologists, and archivists who will analyse specific manifestations of expressive culture. The collaboration draws on digitized data amassed by partners from around the world and mines the collective results of global digitization initiatives. The Project seeks to transform the methodology of cultural analysis and thereby shape scholarship on the place of the African diaspora in global studies. The project will employ innovative ways of mining and shaping data from complex and dispersed digitized holdings. Our work builds on the historical dynamics of forced migration and slavery, consistent with the aims of the UNESCO “Slave Route Project” to “break the chains of silence” about the denial of heritage that have arisen from slavery.
Undergraduate Student Responsibilities
The student will survey published materials on expressive cultures and the African diaspora. This would also require updating the existing bibliography for the project and creating or uploading PDF versions of all materials into a database. In addition, the student would assist in the implementation of the project website (, including the ingestion of data, videos, images, and recordings of materials that are already available in the collections of collaborators. The student would also write a paper or report for the project team that outlines what research has been done, based on an analysis of the materials that have been assembled. It is possible that such a paper/report would be submitted to the undergraduate conference hosted by the Tubman Institute.
Qualifications Required
The student should have experience in bibliographic work, research in surfing the web and exploring library resources, and computer skills in working with the development of websites. The student needs to be able to work with visual editing software and have experience in creating visual database. Knowledge of French, Portuguese and Spanish is desirable. Experience in various dimensions of cultural production is required. The student should have knowledge of cultural studies, communication theory, and preferably knowledge of the African diaspora.