Campus & Community

Mandela Fellows to join Du Bois Institute in fall

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Eleven new fellows will join the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard this fall for one or two semesters of the 2000-01 academic year, according to Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Institute and chair of the department of Afro-American studies. Founded in 1975, the institute is the oldest research center of its kind, and has supported the scholarly development of more than 250 alumni.

In its second year, the Mandela Fellowship, named in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela, and sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a means for South African scholars to be released from the demands of higher education in that country in order to have time and space for new research, as well as to be engaged with a wider community of scholars.

This year’s recipients of the Mandela Fellowship are Chirevo V. Kwenda, senior lecturer in the department of religious studies; Muhammad Saalih Allie, associate professor of academic development and physics; and Lesley Marx, associate professor of the department of English, all of the University of Cape Town. Kwenda’s project is titled “The African Theory of Religion,” while Allie will develop a curriculum for teaching the basis of experimentation. The title for Marx’s project is “Dispossession, Reclamation and the Sense of Place.”

The Rockefeller African Humanities Institute is supporting two fellows this year in a program designed to increase consciousness of how Africa has informed various academic disciplines, and to question the disciplinary boundaries set by “the silencing of the African voice.” The Rockefeller Fellows are Ezenwa Ohaeto, associate professor of English at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria, whose project is “The Biography, African Perspective, African Knowledge: Wole Soyinka;” and Fekeni Senkoro, associate professor of literature and associate dean for research and publication at the University of Dar es Salaam, who is working on “Transcription, Translation, Analysis and Writing of a Full-Length Bilingual Anthology of Folktales from Zanzibar.”

The additional Du Bois Fellows are Anne C. Bailey, visiting professor of history, University of Pennsylvania, “Oral History of the Atlantic Slave Trade;” Cathy J. Cohen, professor of political science and African American studies, Yale University, “Evolution of Black Civil Society in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia;” Janis F. Kearney, the President’s personal diarist/historian, “President Clinton’s Historic African Visit;” Simon Mawondo, lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, Classics and Philosophy, University of Zimbabwe, “Truth, Reconciliation and Justice: The Search for Peace;” Naomi Pabst, Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, 2000-02, Department of Afro-American Studies and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies, Harvard University, “Freedom Tropes and Representation Struggles: A Politics of Blackness;” and Augusta Rohrbach, visiting assistant professor, Oberlin College, “Nineteenth Century Women Writers: A Study of Authorship.”

“This group of Fellows represents the cutting edge of scholarship in the rapidly expanding field of African-American studies,” Gates stated. “I am delighted to welcome them to Harvard so that they can have a year of study and, just as important, so that they can contribute to Harvard’s intellectual life. I am especially pleased that we are able to demonstrate the diasporic nature of the black world by the inclusion of more African scholars.”