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NSU’s heritage center hosts research of Creole culture
Oct 10, 2013 | 344 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Researchers from University of Oxford, U.K., visited the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University to do research for a project on Creoles worldwide. From left are Selina Cohen, Professor Robin Cohen, Dr. Pete Gregory and Dr. Susan Dollar.
Researchers from University of Oxford, U.K., visited the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University to do research for a project on Creoles worldwide. From left are Selina Cohen, Professor Robin Cohen, Dr. Pete Gregory and Dr. Susan Dollar.
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The Louisiana Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University hosted a British researcher studying the Creole culture in the state – and the Natchitoches area in particular – as part of an international project.  Professor Robin Cohen, professor Emeritus at the University of Oxford, U.K., is principal investigator in an international research program that explores creolization in different parts of the world.

Creolization is the process in which a mixed people of African, European and indigenous ancestry emerged as a result of colonization.

In the study, researchers examined sites where creolization has emerged, conducting fieldwork in the Republic of Mauritius, off of the eastern coast of Madagascar; the Republic of Cape Verde, off the western coast of Africa; the French Caribbean, which includes Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin, Les Saintes, and Marie-Galante, and Louisiana.

Cohen’s research is funded by the U.K. foundation, the Leverhulme Trust. There are 11 projects in all. In his project, with Olivia Sheringham, he engages with the concepts of diaspora and creolization through a comparative study of the four different settings.

“Diasporic and creolized identities tend to be conceptualized as ‘opposites,’ the first placing emphasis on the past, the second on the present and future,” he explained.  “This study will explore the subtle ways in which the two interact with each other, often in a mutually exclusive pattern, but sometimes in a mutually reinforcing way. The key task will be to elaborate and rework the contingent, historically specific and situational settings in which diaspora or creolization emerge, diverge, or converge; the ‘delicate dance’ between them.”

Cohen and wife Selina worked with Sheila Richmond and Pete Gregory at the Creole Heritage Center, Mary Linn Wernet in the Cammie G. Henry Research Center at NSU’s Watson Library and Susan Dollar, associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, History, and Social Science, who shared their time and information on Creoles in Louisiana.

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