Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae named CRC in Race, Gender, and Performance

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Government of Canada has just announced the newest Canada Research Chairs (CRC) including Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae (Department of Communication Arts), CRC in Race, Gender, and Performance. Her CRC research-creation program will examine existing art and scholarship and she will create new artistic work as contributions to Black studies and Black expressive culture in Canada and the world.

Naila Keleta-MaeExploring the meaning of blackness and freedom, Keleta-Mae’s CRC program objectives are to: 1) examine how blackness and freedom are imagined in Black expressive culture; 2) create new artistic works in fiction, video, music, and theatre about blackness and freedom; and 3), disseminate these artistic works to advance public and academic discourse on blackness and freedom.

The first objective develops an extensive annotated bibliography of scholarship, artworks, and artists that examines how blackness and freedom are portrayed in Black expressive culture. Artwork, artists, and theorists will be selected based on terms including geographic region, identity markers, artistic methods, and artistic outputs.

The second objective seeks to uncover processes and practices for sustained engagement with scholarly materials throughout the process of artistic creation. This approach to scholarly and artistic processes aims to examine, through the creation of new artwork, how a focus on freedom can inform modes of Black expressive culture.

The third objective breaks down walls that separate theorizations of culture from its practice and its importance to the communities that cultivate it by integrating public pedagogy into its methodology. The general public will be provided with ways to engage with the topic of blackness and freedom in Black expressive culture through new artistic work.

logo for Black And Free projectWinner of a 2022 UWaterloo Arts Award for Excellence in Research, Keleta-Mae is the Principal Investigator of Black And Free, a research-creation project based in Black expressive culture that she began in 2017 and for which she has secured funding through to 2027 from sources including the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Black And Free is an academic and artistic project that deepens, enlivens, and expresses themes of blackness and freedom, projecting expansive visions of what that could be. As Principal Investigator of Black And Free, Keleta-Mae currently leads a 20+ person research team and has multi-year research partnerships with Citizen Brand, TheEDGEKen Seiling Waterloo Region Museum, NOR: The design commons for Canada, Studio Otherness, THEMUSEUM, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, and Young People’s Theatre. She is the author of Performing Female Blackness (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, forthcoming) and Beyoncé and Beyond: 2013-2016 (Routledge UK, forthcoming). Keleta-Mae joined the University of Waterloo in 2011.

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