Jen Griffin, our featured guest blogger for February, is a doctoral candidate in the Linguistics Department at UNC.
Her research interests include the documentation of dialect variation and evaluating models of variation. Her dissertation project seeks to document the various dialects of Sgaw Karen, which is an understudied language spoken by members of the Karen refugee community here in Chapel Hill.
In recent years, universities and other academic institutions nationwide have sought to promote diversity. In faculty training, course syllabi, and university policies, tolerance of diversity is emphasized in regards to race, gender, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation. However, as sociolinguist Walt Wolfram of North Carolina State University noted at the recent IAAR panel on African American English, one type of diversity that has largely been ignored is linguistic diversity. Little attention has been given to increasing tolerance for or understanding of the many distinct dialects of English that are spoken throughout the nation. Continue reading
No one disputes that mentorship and network-building are the stuff of professional development for young scholars and students. Arguably, mentoring is especially important in interdisciplinary fields such as African American and African diaspora studies, an area of scholarship that some consider less legitimate than “traditional” disciplines (see Robin Kelley’s recent article on this) and that others discredit as yet another “studies” field. Creating structures and opportunities for students and emerging scholars, then, becomes critical for their ability to find and build community and support for their scholarly interests and production as well as gain and acquire access to vital knowledge and strategies for navigating the profession successfully and productively. Continue reading
Listen to Profesor Margaret Bentley (UNC-CH, Gillings School of Global Public Health) January 23rd talk on “Infant Feeding, Care and Risk of Pediatric Obesity among African American Mothers in North Carolina.” She was joined by Dr. Heather Wasser (UNC-CH, Center for Women’s Health Research) and Dr. Amanda Thompson (UNC,-CH, Dept of Anthropology).
|Our featured guest blogger today is Taylor Livingston, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UNC-CH. Taylor’s dissertation project examines whether, how and why African-American women choose to breastfeed. She is particularly interested in the ways that public health discourses and the legacy of slavery and racism in the South shape African-American women’s infant caregiving decisions and practices.
On Thursday afternoon, Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Bentley kicked off IAAR’s Spring semester talks. Dr. Bentley discussed the importance of maternal beliefs and perceptions for understanding infant feeding practices. Dr. Bentley presented the findings from the “Infant Care” study conducted with her colleagues, Dr. Amanda Thompson, Dr. Heather Wasser, and Ms. Kenitra Williams. “Infant Care,” a longitudinal study from 2003-2010, is a descriptive project undertaken with African-American first-time mothers in North Carolina to understand infant feeding. The main focus of the study was to assess if there is a connection between early infant feeding practices and childhood obesity. Continue reading
As you try to wrap your mind around how the temperatures can go from 10 to 70 degrees all in the first week of classes, take a look at the more comprehensible and balanced roster of events that we have lined up for spring 2014. Our focus continues to be currency in research on African Americans and the African diaspora. Three of our spring talks draw on big or emerging questions for studies of Black American women in different fields. Anthropologist and Global Nutrition professor, Margaret Bentley will discuss mothering and child health. Literature scholar, Folashadé Alao (University of South Carolina), will talk about themes of spatial literacy and diaspora among African American women writers in the post-1970s period. And, Kia Caldwell, UNC associate professor of African, African American and African Diaspora Studies, will present with Niasha Fray (doctoral candidate, Dept of Health Behavior) to address self-advocacy among middle class black women undergoing HIV testing. Continue reading
When I pulled together a panel of speakers to discuss the case of Trayvon Martin for IAAR’s second fall program, I hadn’t banked on the event being as intense and rich as it turned out to be. I wanted scholars who may never have written analytically on Martin to bring their research insights on a variety of substantive issues and theoretical questions to bear on the case. But, the take away was that research insights are not decoupled from visceral reaction and emotion. As a cultural anthropologist I knew this truism all too well thanks to work by people like Ruth Behar who talks of an anthropology that “breaks your heart.” But, I had never seen that truism play out in an event space, certainly not as intensively as it did on this particular Thursday evening. And so, as we heard about and discussed complex theoretical categories like social structure, historical process, constructions of race and discrimination, it became clear that the panelists and audience members in the room (students and faculty alike) felt the weightiness of applying those categories to the fraught case of Trayvon Martin’s death. Performing the analytical work and critical thinking together – in what a friend termed an “honest space” – was arduous, productive and riveting. Continue reading
On August 29th, close to 70 people gathered in UNC’s Wilson Library’s Pleasants Family Assembly room for the IAAR’s symposium, Voting Rights, Racial Justice, and Moral Mondays: Examining Civil Rights in the 21st Century, to launch the Institute for the new academic year and under its new director, Professor Karla Slocum. Continue reading
The IAAR is pleased to have three UNC faculty speak at its opening event, Voting Rights, Racial Justice and Moral Mondays: Examining Civil Rights in the 21st Century. Professors Kareem Crayton, Isaac Unah, and Kenneth (Andy) Andrews will examine recent national rulings and state legislative changes in the context of civil rights concerns past and present. Focus will be specifically on developments regarding the Voting Rights Act, the Racial Justice Act, and the Moral Monday protests placed in the context of the Civil Rights Movement. Information on these three accomplished professors can be found below.
Dr. Karla Slocum
Karla Slocum, an associate professor of anthropology at Carolina, has been appointed director of the Institute of African American Research (IAAR), effective July 1. Slocum’s research focuses on globalization, place, rural life ways, and race and history as they relate to groups within the African Diaspora.
“Her strong record of scholarship, long-standing relationship with the IAAR and its Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program, as well as her commitment to forging interdisciplinary connections and broad familiarity with African Diaspora studies all position her well to provide sound and energetic leadership for the institute,” said Carol Tresolini, vice provost for academic initiatives.
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