Laura Edmondson Awarded NEH Fellowship

The prestigious grant will support Edmondson's continued research on performance in central and eastern Africa.

Professor of Theater Laura Edmondson was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue her research on performance in central and eastern Africa. 

Edmonson's project is one of 260 humanities projects across the country announced for NEH funding on Jan. 9, with awards totalling $33.8 million. The competitive faculty fellowships and awards support advanced research and writing projects by humanities scholars on a wide range of subjects. 

Edmondson's project, Performing Contagion and Care in Central Africa, focuses on theater, dance, poetry, film, and performance art in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and how these artworks address themes of illness, disease, and violence. The project will involve fieldwork in Kampala, Uganda and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The work will represent Edmondson's third book project on performance in central and eastern Africa and will complement her two books: Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage and Performing Trauma in Central Africa: Shadows of Empire were published through the African Expressive Cultures series at Indiana University Press.

"This book considers illness and disease as a more stealthy and insidious form of violence—the violence of neglect—and shows how artists and cultural workers in Uganda and DRC confront this form of violence through dance and theater, public protests, poetry, and film," Edmondson says. 

"I demonstrate how performance remembers and critiques these forms of violence as well as how performance imagines antidotes to global neglect and predatory states. It argues that performance invokes ancestral forms of knowledge to situate illness as generative of community and care."

At Dartmouth, Edmondson has served as chair of the Department of Theater as well as program chair of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She has twice received the Dean of the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentoring and Advising. 

Her research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, American Association of University Women, and Fulbright Program.