Kwasi Ampene is Associate Professor and the Director of the Center for World Performance Studies (CWPS) at the University of Michigan and a Mellon Diasporan Fellow at the University of Ghana. He specializes in the rich musical traditions of the Akan of Ghana. His current research interrogates how the performing arts are individually and collectively created and experienced and how musical instruments and various aspects of performance are historically constructed and socially maintained through time. His book publications include Discourses in African Musicology: J.H.Kwabena Nketia Festschrift (2015), Engaging Modernity: Asante in the Twenty-First Century (2014), Female Song Tradition and the Akan of Ghana: The Creative Process in Nnwonkorɔ (2005). His articles and book reviews appear in the American Music Research Center Journal (2012), American Ethnologist (2009), and Ethnomusicology (2007). Since 2009, Ampene has been doing extensive field research at the Asante King’s court in Manhyia Palace in Kumase-Ghana.
Kelly M. Askew is Professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican/African Studies at the University of Michigan. Her works include Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania (University of Chicago Press, 2002); African Postsocialisms (co-editor, Edinburgh University Press, 2006); The Anthropology of Media (co-editor, Blackwell, 2002); and two documentary films: Poetry in Motion: 100 Years of Zanzibar’s Nadi Ikhwan Safaa (70 min., Buda Musique, 2016); The Chairman and the Lions (46 min., Documentary Educational Resources, 2012). She is working on a new book manuscript exploring how Tanzanians and Zanzibaris in the United Republic of Tanzania have musically and poetically responded to the changes that have taken place since the unraveling of socialism in the mid-1980s.
Paul Conway is associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. His research and teaching focuses on archival science, the digitization and preservation of cultural heritage resources, and the ethics of new information technologies. His funded research projects at Michigan have included developing a model of expert user interaction with large collections of digitized photographs, modeling and measuring the quality of large scale digitization as represented in the HathiTrust Digital Library, and exploring the value of creating thematic aggregations of digitized content from multiple organizations. Prior to joining the University of Michigan faculty in 2006, he was an archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration and a senior administrator for the libraries at Yale and Duke universities. He is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Frieda Ekotto is Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. She holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota. As an intellectual historian and philosopher with areas of expertise in 20th and 21st-century Anglophone and Francophone literature and in the cinema of West Africa and its diaspora, she concentrates on contemporary issues of law, race and LGBTQI issues. Her research focuses on how law serves to repress and mask the pain of disenfranchised subjects, and she traces what cannot be said in order to address and expose suffering from a variety of angles and cultural intersections, thus reassessing the position and agency of the dispossessed. She is also working on a documentary on Cultural Production of Sub-Saharan African and its Diaspora as well as archiving and digitizing both moving and still images. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Ford Foundation seed grant for research and collaborative work with institutions of higher learning in Africa and most recently a recipient of a John H. D’Arms Faculty Award for Distinguished Graduate Mentoring in the Humanities at the University of Michigan.
Simeneh Betreyohannes Gebremariam
Simeneh Betreyohannes Gebremariam is a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology, Afroamerican and African Studies, and Performance Studies at the University of Michigan. He received his BA in Music and his MA in Cultural Studies from Addis Ababa University, where he was also a lecturer from 2009-2013 within the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. He also earned a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Memphis. Simeneh is the recipient of multiple graduate fellowships and awards, including the African Initiative Fellowship, the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies Fellowship, the Center for World Performance Studies Grant, and the Rackham Research Grant from 2014-2016. His research examines socialist/post-socialist Ethiopia as part of the global “socialist experiment” of the last century. Specifically, he applies his background in the visual and performing arts to generate an enhanced cultural understanding of political history within regional and global contexts, as well as to establish a viable alternative to the master narratives on these societies.
Leigh Gialanella is pursuing a Master of Information at the University of Michigan in preparation for a career in digital libraries, digital archives, and digital asset management. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, Leigh attended Hamilton College and specialized in History, Archaeology, and Hispanic Studies. Her most recent projects include jumpstarting the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library’s digital processing initiative, assisting with the implementation of the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s new digital scholarship platform, and performing archival tasks for the Audiovisual Africa project. Her current interests within the field include promoting digital scholarship; configuring, customizing, and populating content management systems/web platforms; and designing access systems for maximum accessibility and usability.
Nina Jackson Levin
Nina Jackson Levin is a graduate student at the University of Michigan pursuing a Certificate in African American and Diasporic Studies in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and an MSW, both from the University of Michigan. Nina has conducted research on migrant labor patterns in Beijing, China through the Graham Sustainability Institute and on First Nations children and families in foster care in Melbourne, Australia through the Global Activities Scholars Program. Nina’s research agenda centers around transgenerational trauma among minority groups, family mental health, cultural preservation as intervention, and community-generated empowerment models. Looking ahead, Nina aims to explore Anthropology as a mode of inquiry.