Most of the comments below are expansions of the information in the Annual Report.
My pending sabbatical for AY 22-23 will afford me the time to flesh out the book-length manuscript that focuses on the United States. This is apart from the joint project with my two colleagues in Brazil and Colombia. Grantseeking is also an important activity during my sabbatical--moreso than it has been this year.
The celebration of Manuel Zapata Olivella spilled over into 2021. Because of my long-standing and continuing work on the Afro-Colombian writer, I was fortunate to participate in an exhausing, but rewarding year-long celebration of 100 years of his birth. My contributions to scholarship on Manuel Zapata Olivella continue to this day.
For the co-edited volume “African Migration: Challenges and Coping Strategies in the Context of African Diaspora Studies,": spirituality,, interviews with key actors, and “unusual” sites of African immigration. The book is under consideration with Bucknell University Press
As primary editor of the “African Migration” volume, I feel compelled to get this project in the hands of the editor. This interrupts the almost-finished revisions for my book on Afro-Latin America. The articles, book reviews, and other academic contributions have not seen the same disruption as the book on Afro-Latin America.
With the help of my undergraduate assistant, Christiana Pittman, I made tremendous progress on the “’African’ Surname Project” Although the multi-year project involves two colleagues from Latin American, that portion is moving more slowly due to the lack of funding for them and their students. Meanwhile with the U.S. research—that is my portion—I am able to overlap sections of the project that are originally meant to come in yearly stages. Members of the various family groupings are feeling more comfortable with interviews, and this adds more knowledge to the research and the database. We now have rudimentary graphs and maps that provide much-needed visual representation of our work. In a few days, I will present my initial findings in a seminar of like-minded scholars from around the world, “Slavery and Memory” spearheaded by Dr. Ana Araujo at Howard University. In May, my two colleagues and I will present findings—at the various stages of our research at the most well-regarded international organization on Latin America—the Latin American Studies Organization (LASA). Two small GW grants made the advances on the U.S. segment possible.
Thanks to former Interim Chair, Tony Lopez, as well as our office administrator, I can dream again of soliciting both internal and external funding for my projects—especially the “’African’ Surname Project”. Prior to their presence, my scholarship mostly related to the African Diaspora and, lately, South-South relations, met with deaf ears in my department. Mrs. Carliss Parker Smith makes sure that all faculty were treated with the same dignity and attention through her administrative role. It’s not that I am ahead of my time, but rather that my colleagues—are behind the times, refusing to acknowledge the depth of African Diaspora Studies. Tony is well in tune with the field. The inability of my colleagues to grasp the meaning of African Diaspora Studies in turn affects my very ability to seek funding as the first gatekeeper is the chair, and the chair often consults with colleagues in my unit to ascertain the feasibility of my work. My colleagues have no interest in my work nor in the field of African Diaspora Studies. Prior to Tony and Carliss, it was a never-ending cycle of denial of the very existence of Afro-Latins and the African Diaspora as a field. It is very telling that my work gets recognition outside of my place of employment, but only a perfunctory nod from my unit. Having brought this to the attention of every level of administration in the past, I am less than enthusiastic about the latest push for diversity at GW. It never worked for me. Mine has been a constant struggle that only gets partial resolution when I bring up the problems repeatedly.
Teaching is a constant learning for professors as well as students. I am adjusting to virtual learning so that some elements will remain even after we return to the physical classroom. For example, testing methods had to change, and I now rely on multiple choice questions rather than essays.