Welcome to “Documenting Africa”

Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Cusato (Ohio Wesleyan University) • Dr. Nancy Demerdash-Fatemi (Albion College)

When we compare Africans representing Africa through art, literature, and cinema with Westerners representing Africa through art, literature, and cinema, what can we learn about Africa, about the West, and about representation?

This is the question at the heart of this project, which we are calling “Documenting Africa.” During the summer of 2018, Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Cusato, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Ohio Wesleyan University, and Dr. Nancy Demerdash-Fatemi, Assistant Professor of Art History at Albion College, began to talk about three specific learning objectives they share:

  1. Explore African material culture in its richness and diversity with students;
  2. Examine and debunk problematic myths and mythologies associated with the African continent;
  3. Compare the stakes and processes of self-representation with those associated with representing the “other”.

Thanks to generous grants from the Great Lakes Colleges Association Themed Courses Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Digital Collections: From Projects to Pedagogy and Scholarship Fund, Drs. Cusato and Demerdash-Fatemi were able to connect their courses and their students to tackle these very questions. They embarked on a digital humanities journey taking on the topics of immigration and African art. The first stage of the project culminated in the following pages. We hope you will explore and enjoy this work. Moreover, we hope you learn. Welcome to Documenting Africa.