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2020-2021 Fellows

Kwasi Ampene
Associate Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies

"Musical Expressions and Traditions in the Borderlands: Collaborative Field Research at Aflao-Ghana"

Based on ethnomusicological field research methods and in collaboration with Kofi Kudonu, amember of faculty at the University of Ghana, the project investigates the impact of ambienceand soundscape in a major border town on drumming, song, and dance repertoire of Yevereligious rites. The suite of dances (and accompanying drumming and songs) selected for theproject are Misago, Adzrowo, Sakpate, Tsorhue, Yekpe, Brekete, and Dah. At the end of theproject, we shall jointly publish two journal articles, one in the US and the second in Ghana.

Larry La Fountain-Stokes
Professor, Departments of American Culture, Romance Language & Literatures and Women’s Studies

Performing an Archipelago: Contemporary Performance Arts in Puerto Rico is a book-lengthmultimedia project that focuses on contemporary alternative, black, queer, and women's performance in Puerto Rico. Prof. La Fountain-Stokes will document how a select number of artists re-envision, transform, and challenge Puerto Rican culture and society under U.S.colonialism; how they address violence, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia; andhow these performers negotiate the local situation of precarity caused by the longstanding (post-2008) financial crisis, given the added impact of natural disasters such as Hurricane María in2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Joseph Lam
Professor, Musicology

Professor Lam will conduct interviews with Japanese kunqu practitioners, and examine documents in theatre archives. He will conduct a month-long research project in Japan, and will interview Tamasaburo and Japanese kunqu promoters, scholars, and fans.  Professor Lam will also visit archives of Japanese theatres which have presented kunqu shows. The data collected will be used in a monograph on kunqu as a Chinese and global opera, which will historically and musicologically examine kunqu performance and reception in Japan, Taiwan, UK and the US. The chapters will probe and compare national phenomena with current and international theories, such as music as a social practice (Christopher Small), as cultural pragmatics (Jeffery Alexander), as tactical interactions (Michel de Certeau), and as diplomatic soft power (Joseph S. Nye).

Alaina Lemon
Professor, Anthropology

As an ethnographer of theatrical performance, Professor Lemon has been following a group of acting and directing students who passed through the Russian State Theatrical Academy in Moscow.  She has published descriptions of their social and cultural worlds, but none of that writing conveys how we felt inside this “space capsule,” or “aquarium,” as some called the Academy. This was performance boot camp, barely time to sleep or money to eat.  Former students, now working in Moscow’s theaters and film companies -- are collaborating with me to edit a film titled Tremors: Stanislavsky rests.  Drawing from 30 hours of video and audio material recorded from 2002-2005, they not only document students' nervous struggles as they survive one of the world’s most rigorous theatrical academies, but also trace how small stages channel global conflicts.  Seemingly cut off from traumatic historical events, students’ waking hours were all the same infused by them.  Do we give up life to live in art?  

Katherine Mendeloff
Lecturer, Residential College 

Professor Mendeloff will collaborate with Kenyan playwright Rogers (Aroji) Otieno, whom she met at a workshop at La Mama Umbria’s Director’s Symposium in Italy, on environmental staging of a play about Nobel prize winning eco-activist Wangari  Maathai. The play “Wangari’s Prayer” tackles the subject of deforestation, pollution and climate change in East Africa, through the telling of the story of Africa’s first female Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement.

Tiffany Ng
Assistant Professor, Music 

"Activating Local Partnerships to Decolonize Carillons in Southern Africa"

Twentieth-century war memorial carillons were lauded as democratic “voices” of their cities. Yet the first of these instruments, the Cape Town City Hall carillon in South Africa, has never sounded the voices of Black musicians. For the LSA Dutch Studies theme semester “Decolonizing the Netherlands,” Professor Ng is commissioning Xhosa composer Dr. Bongani Ndodana-Breen to write the first carillon piece by a Black South African, with local partners identifying a second commissionee. She will conduct fieldwork and performance research at the African carillons in Cape Town and Réunion to explore how marginalized listeners might build a sense of ownership over formerly oppressive soundmarks. In the fall, the commissions will be premiered by Professor Ng at U-M and by Alexios Vicatos in Cape Town.