Samantha Pinto: Fellowship Recipient

Samantha Pinto: Fellowship Recipient


Pinto: My project is called “Africa Recirculated,” and it’s a way of trying to rethink our modern ideas about Africa or very contemporary ideas about Africa through this collection called the Transcription Centre. From there, I really wanted to make this question of how the U.S., both in the academy and in the larger scope of the U.S., views Africa a central part of my research. I wanted to really question it, so in looking through the Ransom Center collections, I started reading about the Transcription Centre, and I just really felt like it was a chance to say, “No, there was this really public vision and version of Africa that was so different than what we get now.” And I wanted to go back to that time and look at what the makeup was, what the different struggles were, what the representational politics were, and then think about how we get from there to here. It is a 1960s and 1970s African collection that is really based in London and involves multimedia components. So, there is first and foremost a radio program called “Africa Abroad” that they started that are these little 15- to 18-minute programs that engage with arts and culture and music from around the diaspora as a way not just to publicize it, but to review it. There’s real engagement and real critique going on. It’s not one big happy family at all. You can’t get this kind of history just by reading it. You could read a book, and you could talk about a book and its historical context and go back and say, “Well, I knew this was going on in Nigeria at this time so maybe the book is reflecting on that.” It’s another thing to get these sort of straight-from-the-moment, produced-each-week radio programs that are engaging in exactly what was going on then. You’ve got folks coming on talking about revolutions going on back in their home countries right then. It’s a way of a primary text engaging with history not in the sort of “I’m gonna go back and find it” way, but they’re telling you how they’re engaging. For me, that’s invaluable. The African collections and the collections related to Africa in the Ransom Center now have been put into their own finding aid, and I just think there’s a lot to be done here with Africa and African diaspora manuscripts that you guys are really starting to capitalize on in a great way that I think is wonderful and is going to make the Ransom Center a destination for students and for faculty who are working on research projects in the field. And I think that that’s a great thing.

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