Duke professor to speak on origins of the banjo

Laurent Dubois of Duke University will deliver a public lecture entitled “The Banjo: Roots and Routes” at 5 p.m. Oct. 3 in Brewster B-102.

Dubois is the Marcello Lotti professor of history and romance studies at Duke University. He is a world-renowned expert on the Haitian Revolution, the French Empire, and the Enlightenment in a global perspective.

His most recent manuscript, “Haiti: The Aftershocks of History,” (featured in the New York Times Review of Books) studies independent Haiti and focuses on the historical roots of contemporary society.

Dubois’s lecture will argue that today, the banjo’s sound is synonymous with country, folk and bluegrass. Yet its origin lies in Africa, in various instruments featuring skin drum heads and gourd bodies. His lecture proposes that the banjo offers a powerful way to understand the broader processes of exchange, crossings, and creolization in the Atlantic World and the Americas. By listening and watching the banjo, we get a different perspective on the idea of America, one that emphasizes the ways in which our culture has been shaped by constant crossings between Africa, the Caribbean, and North America over the past centuries.

The lecture is free and open to the public. It opens the Atlantic World Speaker Series at ECU. For more information, contact Dr. Anoush Terjanian, Department of History, East Carolina University, TerjanianA@ecu.edu, 252.328.6093.

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