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Ofosuwa M. Abiola
Howard University (Washington, DC 20059-0001)
Unwitting Witnesses: Unearthing Narratives of African Dance in Pre-Colonial Logs

Archival research leading to a book about dance in West Africa prior to 1880.

"Unwitting Witnesses: Unearthing Narratives of African Dance in Pre-Colonial Logs," explores cultural and ideological narratives embedded in African dance and inadvertently documented by travelers to the Senegambia region of West Africa prior to 1880. The project’s methodology utilizes primary sources including government report logs, diaries, surveyor’s reports, journals, and missionary reports, among others, to analyze the conveyance of ideological and cultural tenets through African dance during the pre-colonial period. These primary sources are typically not consulted for research on African dance history. Yet, they contain a plethora of unknown and under-researched information. Full-time funding for 3 months to travel to The Gambia to consult these and other primary sources at The Gambian National Archives, and for conducting research in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC is requested. The final outcome of the project will be a monograph published in an academic press.

Project fields:
African History; Dance History and Criticism

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$15,000 (approved)
$15,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2022 – 7/31/2022