Research

balafo-close-up
Gambian balafon player, from a travel narrative by François Froger (1698). Courtesy of the James Ford Bell Library.

Atlantic Africans created one of the most revolutionary aesthetic movements of the modern world. From the shores of West African kingdoms to Caribbean plantations and mainland American metropoles, they circulated music of many kinds in the face of enslavement. Audible evidence of this story survives in countless living art forms, yet we know far too little about the contours of African Atlantic musical life in the early modern era. It was during this time period that Black cultures took root in the Americas and transformed global sound. Sound Legacy: Music and Slavery in an African Atlantic World (forthcoming from UVA Press) explores the musical lives of Atlantic Africans during the rise of plantation slavery (1600-1800). The book examines an assemblage of artifacts including published and manuscript records, illustrations, material objects, and musical performances. Sound Legacy argues that it is through listening, and by thinking about sound, that the broader history of music and slavery can best be understood. Ultimately, the project aims to more fully account for the experiences of Africans and their descendants while trumpeting the legacy of performers whose names have largely been forgotten but whose sounds echo still.

Books

Sound Legacy: Music and Slavery in an African Atlantic World (UVA Press, forthcoming).

Digital Sound Studies. Co-editor, with Darren Mueller and Whitney Trettien (Duke 2018).

Other Writing and Media