Co-Dean of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion, Associate Professor of African American History
Amy has conducted oral histories with welfare rights activists and small farmers in Mississippi, and has conducted workshops on the history of anti-poverty and welfare rights activism. Her essay, "Fighting for the Child Development Group of Mississippi: Poor People, Local Politics and the Complicated Legacy of Head Start," is part of a forthcoming collection entitled War on Poverty & Struggles for Racial and Economic Justice. She is currently working on a book entitled From Rural Rehabilitation to Welfare Rights: Rural Relief, Land Ownership and Welfare Rights Activism in Mississippi.
Amy also studies West African dance and performs occasionally with the New Haven-based companies Kouffin Kanecke Dance Company and the Fotoba Dance Troupe.
This course will explore interdisciplinary approaches to African Studies. This is a dance class. Students will study the dance choreographies of Guinean dance styles, highlighting the choreographies generated by the artists of Ballet Africains. Students will begin by learning specific dance rhythms while also exploring African aesthetics, and the social history of African Independence movements, with an emphasis on the role cultural and artistic production played in the creation of revolutionary nationalism, and Negritude. Dance classes will constitute the majority of classes (19 out of 26) while seven class meetings will be discussion-based meetings. The literature will include broader social histories of the struggle for independence and as well as ethnographies and films that explore debates about authenticity, processes of modernity and neocolonial structures of governance. We will discuss the ways in which dance figured into the forging of national identities during the Independence era and consider how these projects in self-making evolved over time as the challenges of the post-colonial era constrained and informed the possibilities for such a project. Key Words: African studies, dance, history
This course will examine the lived experiences, work culture and organizing strategies of African American workers. Readings, films, interviews and newspaper sources will allow us to explore a range of sites, both rural and urban, as well as a range of categories, including workers in private households, steel, tobacco, automobile factories, and cotton and rice fields. This range of labor struggles will provide a glimpse into what has been at stake for African American workers from the Reconstruction period through much of the late 20th century. By extending our exploration over the course of the twentieth century, we can examine organizing traditions in depth and consider their long-term impact on African-American political activism and community life. Students will explore social history monographs, films, interviews and historical newspapers and develop a grounding in historical research methods. Key Words: Africana studies, labor studies, history
African American dance and music traditions have played a critical role in the African-American struggle to sustain its humanity and to express joy and pain corporeally and through a particular relationship to rhythm. This class will explore the forms, contents and contexts of black traditions that played a crucial role in shaping American dance; looking to how expressive cultural forms from the African diaspora have been transferred from the social space to the concert stage. Viewing American cultural history through the lens of movement and performance, we will begin with an exploration of social and spiritual dances during slavery and the late nineteenth century when vibrant social dances insisted that black bodies, generally relegated to long hours of strenuous labor, devote themselves to pleasure as well. The bulk of the course will focus on African American protest traditions. This course will provide a strong foundation for students who want to pursue Africana Studies and will acquaint students with methodologies utilized in performance and historical studies.
Recently, several states including New York, Massachusetts, and California have passed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, legislation. This legislation establishes clear standards, for defining the length of the work day, the right to sick, days and maternity leave as well as appropriate rest and, meal breaks. These recent victories bode well for future, organizing efforts, but also draw inspiration from, historical movements of domestic, laundry and hospital, workers. This course will explore the history of domestic, workers, the efforts of scholars to document their struggle, and the ongoing effort to make domestic work visible and, included within existing legal frameworks for providing, basic protections for workers. The last section of the, course will focus on current campaigns to expand domestic, and service worker rights and pay particular attention to, the impact of home health care worker campaigns on public, sector workers' rights.