I live here ^^^^^^ now.
Enjoying life in a different colonial city and cheating on my true mistress, New Orleans, Louisiana. But I always come back….
I’m so excited to spend the year as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in African-American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia.
Turns out University of Maryland is showing up and showing out in Philadelphia this year. Chris Bonner, Assistant Professor of History at UMD, is in town as a Library Company of Philadelphia NEH Fellow; Christina Larocco, another History department alum, is the new Editor of the Pennyslvania Magazine of History and Biography and Scholarly Programs Manager at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; and Tony Perry, a graduate student in the Department of American Studies (who I met when he was finishing at Bowdoin College and I was arriving there as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Predoctoral Fellow in the Africana Studies Program!) is in town as a McNeil Center for Early American Studies Dissertation Fellow. Excited as well to reunite with P. Gabrielle Foreman, Tiffany Gill, and spend time with Erica Armstrong Dunbar (who supervises the PAAH progam at the Library Company).
The highlight so far has been meeting Krystal Appiah. Gracious, knowledgeable, and welcoming, Krystal showed me around the research library, introduced me to the two online systems (WolfPac for texts and ImPac for non-text material), various finding aids, and managed to make a new and unfamiliar (and HUGE–the African Americana collection alone clocks at over 10,000 items) archive feel like home.
Thank you as well to digital black studies and social media. I first “met” Krystal in 2011 via an H-AfroAm discussion on an unusual source: A 1851 Maryland newspaper advertising the capture of “a Negro man who calls himself Mary Ann Waters.” I was becoming more and more interested in queer histories of slavery and Krystal graciously shared information on the ad. It wasn’t until last academic year, after working with Vanessa Holden to organize the Queering Slavery Working Group, that I could return to the source but it was right on time. In community with colleagues, the #QSWG hosted a primary source workshop discussing Mary Ann Waters and methodologies for finding/constructing queer histories from slavery’s archive.
Like so much this week, meeting Krystal in person, finally, felt like coming full circle through many things, including collaborations rooted in scholarly generosity (from her willingness to share the source to working with Vanessa to build the #QSWG) to historical methods and engagements that cross digital and analog forms (H-AfroAm, black intellectual production across various forms of social media). I’m grateful all roads led me back around to meeting her in person, a phenomenal scholar and thinker.
I expect Philadelphia to treat me goodt. Rasheeda Phillips of Black Quantum Futurism is here. A few NOLA Wildseeds (amazing artist Monica McyIntire among them) will be blowing through town sometime this fall. I spent my first weekend at Made in America with Beyoncé and a little sis has already come to visit (#landofwomen). My housemate is excellent, the house is lovely, and the courtyard is full of trees. My books are unpacked (#blkgirlsread) and stacked under two big windows full of light in the morning and Center City scenes at night.
Something here feels like New Orleans (claims of freedom or ghosts or insurrection) and the weather may hold long enough for me to up my runs along the river from four miles to five. If my time-space continuum is bending, then black futures and black histories beckon. I cannot wait.