My research interests are at the intersection of material culture and African studies, with a particular focus on creative production. The foundational concern underlying my work has to do with the makings of black African subjectivities: How are black African bodies made, interpreted, lived in? Taking seriously the notion of "African-ness" as a relational category, I consider these questions from a cross-cultural and/or transnational perspective.
My current research, as one instantiation of this set of concerns, grapples with questions such as: what does “Africa” signify besides geographical location(s), what work does the concept do, and how is it given material form? My first book project, based on my dissertation "Doing Dutch Wax: Practice, Politics, and 'the New Africa,'" is a multi-sited ethnography examining how ideas about “The New Africa” are produced and enacted along the trajectory of Dutch Wax cloth (a variety of the textile known as “African print”) from design in Holland to use in Lomé, Togo. The ethnography takes as its object of analysis the practices of textile designers, advertisers, sellers, wearers, and tailors (all "doers" of Dutch Wax cloth) and considers what ideas, social relations, and subjectivities are produced alongside the material outputs of the various actors' practices.
My second project examines entrepreneurial initiatives by recent diasporic Africans (first-generation Americans or Europeans) in Africa. Focusing on initiatives in the creative industries specifically (digital media, fashion, film/music), the project interrogates the forms that "Africa" takes and the functions it serves in the efforts of this emergent demographic of entrepreneurs.