Associate Professor, Department
of English; Women and Gender Studies, Joint Faculty; African and African
American Studies, Affiliate Faculty; Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
(2005 – present)
Education: MA and PhD in Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania (1997, 2002); BA in Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley (1994). Folklore and fieldwork related awards: Research Associate and Visiting Faculty, Women’ Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School, (2009-2010); Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Outreach Grant (2007); Fulbright IIE Grant for Research in Nigeria, (2000 – 2001). Publications: Afro-Cuban Diasporas in the Atlantic World, University of Rochester Press, (2010); Special Guest Editor, Western Folklore, Topic: Afro-Caribbean Religion (2007). Essays in journals: Western Folklore; Atlantic Studies; Revista de Investigaciones Folclóricas, Phoebe: Gender and Cultural Critiques; Black Scholar; Africa Today, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Louisiana Folklore Miscellany; Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife. Public Sector: Willett Internship, Philadelphia Folklore Project, documenting local Yoruba artists from the Oshogbo region in Nigeria; Field Report, New Orleans Latino Documentation Pilot, Louisiana Folklife Program, New Populations Project. Professional Service: Board Member, Louisiana Folklore Society, 2011 – 2012; American Folklore Society, Chair, Nominating Committee (2009-2010); AFS Latina/o and Caribbean Section Convener, (2004 – 2006); Louisiana Folklore Society, President (2007-2008); Louisiana Folklife Program, local advisor on regional grants (2005 – 2009).
My work deals with Afro-Atlantic culture, religion, gender, and post-colonialism from the inter-disciplinary perspective of a folklorist. For the last sixteen years the discipline and practice of folklore has allowed me to discover the multiplicity of the communities I belong to, as well as develop a sensitivity to my position as a scholar, collaborator, and teacher of these communities’ creative expressions. Since my main areas of investigation deal with the secretive and much misunderstood area of Afro-Latino spiritualities, I understand the responsibilities of conducting work that is ethical in terms of community engagement. The challenges that folklore practices bring to creating, disseminating, and conducting work in collaboration with others in order to understand and make community echoes those challenges we all face in negotiating our place in the world today. The study and public practice of folklore, which are always intertwined in my opinion, are important factors to keeping us in touch with our responsibilities as global citizens. The American Folklore Society is facing similar challenges in terms of meeting the call to engage and invite the different communities that intersect the organization as subjects of study to the table as contributing members. This means putting to practice the ethics and theoretical bent of the study and practice of folklore by inviting community artists, leaders, and educators to become more fully a part of the organization. As a scholar and practitioner of folklore, I can bring both rigor and cultural sensitivity to my post if elected as a board member. Some of the issues that I would fight for that meet the above challenges include diversifying the society in terms of the geographical, cultural, social status, sexual orientation, and ethnic make up of our members.