*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.
We live in a time of great social and political unrest. As a nation we are a diverse people who struggle to live in harmony. One approach to dealing with this is to try to gain some understanding about the issues and viewpoints. How can you even begin to comprehend Person ZYZ and his or her views on Issue ABC if you know very little about the person’s background, etc., and equally little about that issue? Knowledge is power—and what better concept for a university to deal with than knowledge?! This blog seeks to provide information about both the university’s and the library’s resources to gain understanding, to gain knowledge. One example is the new 18 hour Africana Studies minor offered by the College of Liberal Arts. This description of one of the introductory courses for that minor, AFRC 111, Introduction to Africana Studies, says it all. “This interdisciplinary course will introduce and explore the past, present and future of Africana Studies and the paradigms and perspective that make up the discipline. The course will introduce students to African, African-American, and African Diaspora studies. Topics will include race constructions and representations of Blackness, slavery and emancipation, colonialism and anti-colonial resistance, Black internationalism, Diaspora, Apartheid, and Jim Crow.”
Rice Library’s University Archives Special Collections (UASC) holds a collection of African cultural artifacts called The African Cultural Diversity Showcase. “The showcase was envisioned and developed by Dr. Joseph Uduehi with the assistance of Dr. Michael Ndemanu and Dr. Amanual Beyin. Other contributors included Dr. Sweet Ebeigbe, whose cultural artifacts from Benin-City, Nigeria have enriched the collection, and Provost Ronald Rochon (now President) and Prof. Michael Aakhus both of whose collections have made a valuable impact on the showcase. The goal of the African Cultural Diversity Showcase is to educate the public about African culture through African artifacts that are physically available in a public place. This public place is the USI Rice Library, which houses these African visual artifacts. The artifacts are available to teach basic elements and principles of art as they pertain to lines, color, shape, form, texture, etc. at the elementary to college level. The artifacts are also to showcase the common elements of cultural similarities across the African continent.” Artifacts from 5 African countries are included in this showcase/collection. There are far more than can be shown here, and worthy of a look. Why not schedule a time with University Archivist Jennifer Greene (812-464-1832; firstname.lastname@example.org) to come in and see more of them? Let’s take a look at a few, mostly visually, of these countries and representative artifacts.
UA 077, the African Cultural Diversity Showcase
All information pages on the countries courtesy of the CIA World Factbook, the one page country summaries.