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Grant number: FB-54969-10

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FB-54969-10

Barbara E. Frank
SUNY Research Foundation, Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY 11794-0001)

Marks of Identity: Reconstructing the History of an African Ceramic Tradition

This proposal seeks support for field research and time to complete a monograph on a remarkable group of women of the Folona region of southern Mali whose identity and artistry as potters provide clues to their complex history. My approach combines analyses of the formal qualities of pottery and the technological styles of ceramic production with the study of gender, artisan caste, language, and local histories within a regional perspective. Although they speak a Mande language and identify the Mande heartland as their ancestral home, the kinds of pots these women make, the way they form and fire them, and their identity as the wives of griot-leatherworkers rather than of blacksmiths suggests that the origins of this ceramic tradition may lie elsewhere. At the heart of my project is a desire for the ceramic arts of Africa to be recognized as art forms worthy of scholarly attention and for African women to be recognized as bearers of cultural heritage in their own right.

Project fields:
African Studies

Program:
Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2011 – 7/31/2012