I am a historian of southern Africa. My research focuses on the intersection between politics and culture in colonial and independent Angola. My book Intonations (Ohio University Press, 2008) explores how music was a practice in and through which Angolans living under extreme political repression imagined the nation and how the particularities of music and historical moment cast this process in gendered terms. In other words, I am interested in the ways that cultural practice is productive of politics and not just derivative of it. Much of my evidence comes from interviews with musicians and consumers of music and I explore how memory, experience, and pleasure shape politics and history.
I am currently working on a book project entitled Powerful Frequencies: Radio, State Power, and the Cold War in Angola, 1933-2002 which looks at the relationship between the technology of radio and the shifting politics of southern Africa as anti-colonial movements established independent states in the context of a region newly charged by Cold War politics. This book attends to state dynamics of consolidation through techno-political processes and the human interferences that jam those grand plans.
My work looks at different media and how their uses, the practices and meanings people develop around them, and their relationship to power shift over time. Whether music, radio, film, or photography (sound or visual), I am interested in questions of mediation of presents that become pasts and the past as a discipline of study.
I have published on music, fashion, film, radio, and urban space. I serve on the editorial collective of the Radical History Review and on the editorial board of Africa is a Country where I also contribute as a blogger.