Photo: Image 2016: Flickr. (Photo: Toon van Dijk.) CC BY-ND 2.0.


Interdisciplinary Initiatives


Photo for Living in Limbo: The African

Living in Limbo: The African Refugees Documentation Project

African refugees and displaced persons have grown dramatically over the last two decades, representing crises of governance, global warming, and infrastructural deterioration throughout the continent. Increasingly, these camps are shifting from temporary holding centers providing vital shelter and subsistence services to semi-permanent communities where people live their lives and pursue their careers. The goal of this project is to analyze refugee communities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda in ways that identify African initiatives that create opportunities for growth and sustainable incentives for resettlement, reintegration and repatriation.

Photo for The Greening of a Continent:

The Greening of a Continent: Smart Solar Grids for Rural Communities in Africa

“Green Development” in Africa must be ecologically and economically sustainable, emphasizing local solutions to climate change with African stakeholders in rural communities. Building on African initiatives in areas of sustainable agriculture, energy, water use, wetland restoration, biofuel development, entrepreneurship, awareness building, and ecovillage development, we focus on a central piece of this challenge: the construction of a community-based solar energy grids that generates low-cost electricity in rural villages of the Western Sahel most immediately threatened by desertification. The multiplier effect of our experimental prototype will stimulate local and regional carbon-free development in multiple sectors through a “smart” photovoltaic infrastructure. Pilot projects are targeted for Ivory Coast, the Republic of Benin, and Cameroon.

Photo for The Blood of Mothers: Why

The Blood of Mothers: Why Culture Matters to Prenatal Healthcare in Africa

Our project develops linkages between the science and culture of prenatal care in Africa. We focus on three related and particularly dense symbolic templates that resonate with the social and cultural contexts of childbirth in Africa: these are 1) ideologies of blood, framed by gendered meanings of fertility and witchcraft, 2) sexual economies that maximize reproductive value, and 3) physiologies of the social body expressed by idioms of collective circulation and reproduction in which childbearing women are located. Each of these culturally coded domains bears directly on African responses to prenatal care and management, and illuminate what might otherwise appear to be irrational obstacles to effective prophylaxis, testing and treatment.

Photo for History in the Dungeons: The

History in the Dungeons: The Gold Coast Forts and Castles Project (Ghana)

Given the monumental significance of Ghana's slave forts and castles during the rise of the Atlantic slave trade, they remain surprisingly understudied. Apart from Elmina and Cape Coast “Castles” and Fort Christiansbourg in Accra, the lesser forts along West Africa's historic Gold Coast are overlooked and even neglected as landmarks of “the African trade.” Our goal is to conduct a systematic survey that locates these forts within Afro-European “conjunctures” that linked hinterland captives to overseas markets. Partnering with students and faculty from the University of Ghana, Legon, and the University of Cape Coast, we will conduct archival research, excavations, and collect oral histories and ethnographic data on shrines, rituals, deities and dungeons associated with these monumental sites of human commodification. By studying these sites of Atlantic slavery in Ghana we highlight the African parameters of early modern capitalism and rethink the standard narrative of its historical development.