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Critical life stories from a New Orleans-based African diasporic organization

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Abstract:

Educational sources including eighteenth century European travel writings, twentieth century textbooks, and twenty-first century news media reports have played an integral role in constructing ideas about Africa; they have consistently perpetuated negative images of Africa and African people. These unbalanced and oftentimes racist presentations have a particularly deleterious impact on people of African descent. Recognizing the need to counter the (mis)education that has permeated society, some U.S. community-based organizations (CBOs) have incorporated programs that provide Black youth with opportunities to learn about African cultures and have first-hand experiences within the continent.

My dissertation research is designed as critical life stories embedded within the case study of a New Orleans-based community organization that provided local African American youth with opportunities to learn about and study in Africa. The non-profit, founded by local teachers, existed from 1996 until 2005, when it was forced to suspend operation due to Hurricane Katrina. This study’s methodology, theoretical frameworks, and substantive findings will be informed by critical theory.

I plan to conduct at least two and no more than three life story interviews with eight to ten of the organization’s student alumni participants and three to five board of director members. In addition, I will garner data from the organization’s website, content analyses of student applications and student writings, local New Orleans’ newspapers, program curricula, and other archived documentation. Through my findings, I hope to uncover the relationship between participants’ lives and larger societal systems as well as discuss the agency that participants present in their stories.

This study is situated at the nexus of two main domains of research literature: (1) African American identity and Afrocentrism and (2) cosmopolitanism and global identity. It may also be informed by literature on Afrocentric youth development programs and Black women’s identity particularly as it relates to research on Black female teachers as community change agents. While my final research questions will originate during the data collection and analysis, my central research question is: How do the organization’s student alumni, founders, and board of director members conceptualize the experience within their life stories? Theoretical frameworks that I may utilize to inform the study are ethnography of diaspora, transformative citizenship, cosmopolitanism/global citizenship, and critical race theory.

As a study that explores the experiences and long-term impact (as participants conceive it) of an African diasporic community-based program based in pre-Katrina New Orleans, it will fill important gaps in the current research. For more practitioner and policy-focused purposes, this research can help someone who wants to start an organization like it to understand the potential experiences of those who would participate in it. In addition to contributing to research literature, practice, and policy, I have a clear interest in providing a “living history” of a New Orleans’ community-based organization that is no longer in operation. As the city and its people confront a home that is forever changed, it is vital that the presence of the community elements that shaped people’s lives not be forgotten.

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particip (43), african (40), like (36), know (28), american (28), africa (25), peopl (24), us (21), one (16), experi (15), studi (14), go (13), research (12), see (12), program (12), mani (12), think (11), would (11), alumni (10), kid (10), student (9),
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Association:
Name: 53rd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
URL:
http://www.cies.us


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MLA Citation:

Hamilton, Evelyn. "Critical life stories from a New Orleans-based African diasporic organization" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 53rd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina, Mar 22, 2009 <Not Available>. 2014-11-29 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p297187_index.html>

APA Citation:

Hamilton, E. , 2009-03-22 "Critical life stories from a New Orleans-based African diasporic organization" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 53rd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-11-29 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p297187_index.html

Publication Type: Dissertation
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Educational sources including eighteenth century European travel writings, twentieth century textbooks, and twenty-first century news media reports have played an integral role in constructing ideas about Africa; they have consistently perpetuated negative images of Africa and African people. These unbalanced and oftentimes racist presentations have a particularly deleterious impact on people of African descent. Recognizing the need to counter the (mis)education that has permeated society, some U.S. community-based organizations (CBOs) have incorporated programs that provide Black youth with opportunities to learn about African cultures and have first-hand experiences within the continent.

My dissertation research is designed as critical life stories embedded within the case study of a New Orleans-based community organization that provided local African American youth with opportunities to learn about and study in Africa. The non-profit, founded by local teachers, existed from 1996 until 2005, when it was forced to suspend operation due to Hurricane Katrina. This study’s methodology, theoretical frameworks, and substantive findings will be informed by critical theory.

I plan to conduct at least two and no more than three life story interviews with eight to ten of the organization’s student alumni participants and three to five board of director members. In addition, I will garner data from the organization’s website, content analyses of student applications and student writings, local New Orleans’ newspapers, program curricula, and other archived documentation. Through my findings, I hope to uncover the relationship between participants’ lives and larger societal systems as well as discuss the agency that participants present in their stories.

This study is situated at the nexus of two main domains of research literature: (1) African American identity and Afrocentrism and (2) cosmopolitanism and global identity. It may also be informed by literature on Afrocentric youth development programs and Black women’s identity particularly as it relates to research on Black female teachers as community change agents. While my final research questions will originate during the data collection and analysis, my central research question is: How do the organization’s student alumni, founders, and board of director members conceptualize the experience within their life stories? Theoretical frameworks that I may utilize to inform the study are ethnography of diaspora, transformative citizenship, cosmopolitanism/global citizenship, and critical race theory.

As a study that explores the experiences and long-term impact (as participants conceive it) of an African diasporic community-based program based in pre-Katrina New Orleans, it will fill important gaps in the current research. For more practitioner and policy-focused purposes, this research can help someone who wants to start an organization like it to understand the potential experiences of those who would participate in it. In addition to contributing to research literature, practice, and policy, I have a clear interest in providing a “living history” of a New Orleans’ community-based organization that is no longer in operation. As the city and its people confront a home that is forever changed, it is vital that the presence of the community elements that shaped people’s lives not be forgotten.


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