I am a historian of early modern West Central Africa and the circum-Caribbean, with a particular focus on the discourses and practices through which Africans and Africans and their descendants in the Americas forged novel political communities and ideologies. In addition to my focus on early modern history, I also engage contemporary African and African Diasporic cultural studies. Through extensive ethnographic, oral historical, and linguistic work, in addition to close and semiotic readings of more conventional archival sources, I endeavor to elaborate the history of political ideas and actions for those who left no explicit, textual record of political thought. I am particularly interested in how this type of global, subaltern African intellectual and political history compels a re-conceptualization of some of the central theoretical concepts in the humanities and social sciences, including modernity, identity, and subjectivity.
My approach to research informs the structure of my teaching, as I operate from the assumption that knowledge is something forged collectively, in community. From my largest survey classes to my seminars, students work together in intellectual community to interrogate primary and secondary sources and always address the relationship between history and the fierce urgency of now.