Undocumented Stories: Writing Africa and the Americas across the Disciplines

This workshop aims to bring together scholars interested in reconstructing the history and experiences of people in Africa and the Americas (with a special focus on indigenous communities) in contexts of limited or non-existent contemporaneous documentation using methodologies from a range of disciplines. The scarcity of written records and/or of conventional archives necessitates an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on linguistic, ethnographic, archaeological, music, and art-historical evidence alongside oral traditions, literature and history. While on the one hand the product of necessity, the resulting methodological approach is a rich one that can effectively serve to develop an alternative narrative by drawing on the quotidian objects and words used by ordinary people. The primary intention of this workshop is to facilitate conversations between scholars in these various disciplines in order to bring new and productive perspectives to bear on this endeavor.

While similar methodological challenges face scholars of indigenous peoples in the Americas and scholars of Africa, the two groups rarely engage in sustained conversations about these issues. Although the historical development of indigenous America and Africa have followed different paths, there are many shared experiences, whether through colonialism, diaspora communities resulting from slavery, or the experience of cultural marginalization. Precisely because there are differences in the sources available and in the history of the two areas as well as certain commonalities, we hope the workshop will result in fruitful conversations that will shape our individual research going forward as well as potentially sparking new collaborations.

More information about the series, including past events, is available here


The Undocumented Series is sponsored by ISERP, the Department of History, and the Center for Archaeology.


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