Interview with Professor Samir Meghelli
What is your main area of interest?
In the broadest sense, I'm interested in transnational African and African diasporic cultural and political movements of the twentieth century, including pan-africanism, African decolonization and the African American Civil Rights/Black Power movements, postwar and postcolonial migration and immigration, and popular culture in the Afro-Atlantic and Francophone worlds. These interests have cohered around two main projects on which I'm working at the moment: the first, my current book manuscript, explores the transnational history of Hip Hop between the African American neighborhoods of New York City and the postcolonial, working-class suburbs of France (disproportionately populated by second-generation African immigrants and African-descended migrants from the Caribbean); the other book project explores the transnational political solidarities forged between Algerians and African Americans during the eras of decolonization and Civil Rights/Black Power.
What have been your most important publications or research projects to date?
A couple of my recent projects/publications include the following:
- A co-authored book entitled"The Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness"(2006):a documentary history covering more than thirty years of the global Hip Hop cultural movement and which includes oral histories with musicians, visual artists, dancers, photographers, deejays, and record producers from the around the United States, Africa, Caribbean, and Europe.
- A book chapter entitled,"From Harlem to Algiers: Transnational Solidarities Between the African American Freedom Movement and Algeria, 1962-1978," whichexplores how Algeria and the Algerian revolution came to hold an important place in the iconography, rhetoric, and ideology of key branches of the modern African American freedom struggle.
What do you hope to accomplish at U of I?
As an interdisciplinary scholar, I look forward to continue strengthening the ties between and across departments and area centers. And as an Assistant Professor of African American Studies and French, I look forward to growing these departments' course offerings and programming in African American cultural studies and Afro-French cultural and political history.
A number of projects are in the works, but I'm currently focused on completing my book, tentatively titled Between New York and Paris: A Transatlantic History of Hip Hop.
What are some key areas you would like to see grow in regard to African Studies at U of I?
I look forward to helping bridge the study of the African continent with the study of its diasporas in Europe and the Americas. What are the intersections, connections, and discontinuities between these communities, and how might we more consistently/substantively engage these overlapping fields?
Many of us are also working to more fully integrate North Africa into the field of African Studies and in ways that reflect the deep historical realities of the Sahara as a corridor (among many such corridors on the continent) and not as an impermeable barrier (as has been often been posited). This artificial divide has tended to define the discipline to the detriment of our full understanding of the continent and its history.