Jazz historian visits MSU for engaging book discussion

Contact: Tyler Powell

Rashida K. Braggs (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Historian, performer and teacher of Africana studies Rashida K. Braggs will bring to life her experiences in music and culture when she visits Mississippi State Nov. 13 for a book discussion.

In collaboration with the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center’s International Education Week, the Institute for the Humanities is hosting the free lecture, open to the public, at 4 p.m. in Giles Auditorium. Parking will be available at Giles Hall. Patrons also can use the S.M.A.R.T. Central Route, which stops at Giles Hall. The talk is made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Braggs’ new book, “Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music and Migration in Post-World War II Paris,” analyzes the post-WWII migration of African American musicians to Paris joining the jazz scene. Published in early 2016 by University of California Press, the book challenges the notion that Paris was a “color-blind paradise” for African Americans and analyzes the strategies musicians used “to thrive in Paris, and the transformations in personal identity that paralleled jazz’s own morphing identity from 1946-1963.”

 “For a place like Mississippi, the ‘birthplace of America’s music,’ Dr. Braggs’ talk will be especially powerful, touching on race, rhythm and movement,” said Julia Osman, director of the Institute for the Humanities. “She will be bringing together so many elements of the humanities – music, history, culture and identity in her talk.”

Kei Mamiya, program coordinator of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, said Braggs’ book discussion “fits perfectly” with the purpose of International Education Week.  “Students will be able to engage in and learn about Braggs’ broad and deep research fields including race, music, culture, migration and history, and also relationships among these social factors,” Mamiya said.

An associate professor of Africana studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Braggs uses a performative lens to showcase African diasporic culture expressions, from jazz to sports to mass media.  

She challenges her students to view performance as representative of more than entertainment but rather an expression that highlights society’s values, patterns and negotiations of power through her courses, including 13 Ways of Looking at Jazz; Groovin’ the Written Word: The Role of Music in African American Literature; Race(ing) Sports: Issues, Themes and Representations of Black Athletes; and Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora.

A director and performer, Braggs’ experience includes acting, voice performance and dance. She also has served as a choreographer and co-director of on-stage productions. 

Braggs has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in performance studies, a master’s degree from Boston University in mass communications, and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in theater studies and English.  As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, she has taught classes in introductory theater and performance, race and gender in literature, and American literature and art history.

The Institute for the Humanities promotes research, scholarship and creative performances in the humanistic disciplines and raises their visibility, both within Mississippi State and the wider community. The institute’s activities include sponsorship of the distinguished lecture series, support for faculty research initiatives and public outreach through scholarship and innovative teaching. 

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. For more details about the College of Arts and Sciences, visit www.cas.msstate.edu; the Institute for the Humanities at www.ih.msstate.edu.  

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 3:28 pm