ICMuS Research Seminar Series: Professor Francesca T. Royster

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Join us for the ICMuS Research Seminar 2021/ 22 series where we are delighted to welcome Professor Francesca T. Royster.


In this talk, I’ll focus on the collaborative work of Rhiannon Giddens and her all-Black female, all banjo supergroup, Our Native Daughters. The title paraphrases Gayatri Spivak’s 1988 essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak”.

I call on Spivak here to frame the ways that Giddens and her collaborators seek to reclaim and give voice to African American women’s subjectivity and storytelling through the banjo. I’m interested here in the very question of whether Black women speak their authentic stories through the banjo, and whether it will be heard by audiences they seek to reach, particularly other Black women, given its vexed history. I will explore the powerful resonances of Our Native Daughter’s engagement with Black histories of racial trauma and survival for me and my queer family as we watch the group in concert at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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