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The Center for African and African American Studies at Rice University in cooperation with the Departments of Anthropology and History invites applications for a one-year non-renewable postdoctoral fellowship as part of the 2021-2022 Mellon Sawyer Seminar entitled “Diasporic Cultures of Slavery: Engaging Disciplines, Engaging Communities.” We seek to foster innovative approaches to diasporic cultures of slavery with attention to community engagement, physical spaces, and the materiality of social worlds in Texas, Ghana, Brazil, and Jamaica. The seminar will explore the ways that scholarly engagement with the physical spaces of social, cultural, political, and economic performance can help us gain a better sense of how racialization and its enactment(s) have shaped and have been shaped by the material content of African and African American social worlds. It will focus on the way that material worlds of historic African and African Diaspora communities have enduring meaning and power in the contemporary world. These material “sites” remain highly-contested places through which descendants and residents seek to make sense of the past and present. The seminar will engage with scholars, descendants, residents, and heritage managers to explore how the history of enslavement is and should be represented through places and materials today.
The successful applicant will have research and teaching interests that center on the roles that Atlantic slavery played in the histories, cultures, and representations of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa and its Diaspora. We are especially interested in scholars working on questions involving some of the following: the cultures of slaving and slavery, the memory and memorialization of Atlantic slavery, the material cultures of the Diaspora, and the connections between scholarly and public understandings of the slave past. The Mellon fellow will work with the Sawyer Seminar organizing committee in planning seminar events, and will of course participate in all aspects of seminar meetings.