Welcome to our virtual home for graduate and undergraduate projects at the University of Pennsylvania. My name is Carol Muller, and I am a Professor of Music here at Penn. The focus of our projects is on the music of Africa as old and new diaspora. It began with work in what Penn calls Academically Based Community Service classes I have taught to graduate and undergraduate students since 2001—focused on the mostly African American communities in West Philadelphia, the immediate neighbors of the University of Pennsylvania. There we have worked with mostly faith based organizations—Baptist Churches and a Muslim community located at 47th Street and Lancaster Avenue; with some extension into popular music and jazz. More recently, I have been creating classes around the new African diaspora—musicians who travel to the United States to perform, or who have recently immigrated to the United States and come to perform in Philadelphia—in conversation with more established African American communities and musicians—often thought of as the old African diaspora.
The classes taught and linked out to, range from advanced graduate seminars in thinking about the music of the old and new African diasporas, and reflections on these experience; to freshman seminars that take brand new undergraduates at Penn into the city of Philadelphia to hear music of old and new diasporas. The next project is to begin work with recent African immigrant and refugee communities here in Philadelphia.
Most of what you find on this site, is the result of semester long individual and group student research projects conducted in partnership with community members. More recently, I have begun to ask students to create blog entries on their encounters with music of the African diaspora—so these are becoming a key part of this site as well. And in 2014, while reading materials on contemporary African diasporas, we took a real interest in the writing of Jayne Ifekwunigwe, who has lived diasporically and across categories all her life. She wrote a piece using the idea of [Re] Turnings—where she experiments with writing style and rhetoric as a means to most effectively reflecting on significant moments or turning points in her life as a diasporic subject. Students in my classes have found this strategy for reflecting on a single transformative moment to be empowering. We have begun to record the voices of students reading their TURNINGS and to make them public here.
This project is always a work in progress, but if you have comments or questions, feel free to drop me an firstname.lastname@example.org
Site and work supported by the Moorman Simon Fellowship, the Provost Arts and Culture Fund, the Music Department, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. April 2015