Essay for Smithsonian Folklife Festival: “It is Heritage”

Since September 2017, I have been a predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. I have been writing my dissertation, which is based on my field research as well as some collections research that I am undertaking here (in the archives of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and collections of the National Museum of Natural History ethnology department and National Museum of African Art). In a nice coincidence for me, a small part of the 2018 Folklife Festival put on by my hosts, the Center for Folklife […]

Preliminary Research Trip #2: Paris

Guests, some in a blue and orange wax print group uniform, at a wedding celebration in a Parisian suburb. This trip was hard—well, as hard as spending time in Paris, its glittering center and fascinating, diverse, labyrinthine suburban communities can be. I arrived in Paris with a not-very-long list of phone numbers, contacts’ contacts. It never feels good to have one’s messages unreturned, but the few relationships I was able to establish during the six weeks’ stay rewarded me much more than I could have […]