The Black Film Center/Archive congratulates our Research Assistant Jordache Ellapen, a Ph.D. student in the Department of American Studies at Indiana University, on his receipt of a Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (DPDF) through the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

The Social Science Research Council is an independent non-profit international organization that works with practitioners, policymakers, scholars, and researchers in the fields of conflict and peace building, development and social change, the public sphere, knowledge and learning, and strengthening global social science. To foster innovative and original research, each year the SSRC offers 12 DPDF Fellowships to doctoral students constructing compelling research proposals in five fields.  As Jordache explained: “The description of the particular field, Postcolonial identities and Decolonial Struggles: Creolization and Colored Cosmopolitanism, is what appealed to me. Although my research is more broadly cultural studies-based, the questions I seek to explore through this research fit within this field description.”

Research Assistant Jordache Ellapen at the Black Film Center/Archive, April 2013.

Postcolonial identities and Decolonial Struggles: Creolization and Colored Cosmopolitanism seeks to investigate the development of cross-racial identities and cross-cultural national linkages between twentieth century struggles against domination. Drawing on a range of disciplines from Sociology and Geography to Ethnomusicology and Philosophy, the field hopes to examine how the movements and settlement of people, concepts, and ideas reveal the persistent reconfiguration of socio-cultural identities and borders.  Jordache hopes in particular to “push the boundaries of identity politics in the post-apartheid context, by provocatively troubling the category black, asking us to rethink blackness within the South African context, and thinking what implications this may have for blackness on a more global level.”  His research focuses on “race and critical race theory in the postcolony beyond the black/white binary” and will include the creation of “an archive that promises to be rich with material, and exciting to audiences across disciplines,” comprised of “visual cultural objects that range from short and feature-length films, photography, election campaign posters and fine art exhibitions.”

The funding provided by the DPDF Fellowship will allow Jordache to more fully explore these critical and thought-provoking research questions by attending two SSRC workshops and conducting individual exploratory research.  Over the summer, Jordache will travel to South Africa where he will be engaged in various research activities. “There are two archives that I will visit; The Cullen Library at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and the Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Center at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal in Durban. I will also interview some South African artists of Indian origin [and] conduct some ethnographic research by observing and taking note of certain predominantly Indian areas in Johannesburg and Tongaat.” The Spring and Fall workshops (May 28-June 2 in Coventry, England/September 18-22 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) will be led by Gurminder Bhambra, Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick and Nico Slate, Assistant History Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. While both workshops will help Jordache refine his research questions and expose his own work to a larger body of research literature, the Fall workshop will also draw on Jordache’s forthcoming summer experiences to enhance his research proposal.

~Ardea Smith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s