Larissa Johnson


Fifth Year Graduate Student in Joint Ethnomusicology/Africana Studies Program


103, Music Building

I am a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in Music and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania where I am advised by Professor Timothy Rommen. I am currently undertaking fieldwork in Cape Town, South Africa.

My dissertation project asks what sovereignty and belonging feel like for so-called-Coloured indigenous revivalist communities in South Africa where the histories and enduring legacies of colonialism and apartheid rule are conditioned by the production and maintenance of land as property, and where the contemporary collective imagination of freedom is deeply and totally embedded in its return to the people of this place. Moving around what is the focus of important writing on the land question in democratic South Africa--that is the economic implications of agrarian reform and reclaiming apartheid-designed, now gentrifying cities--to think instead about its value in the making of self and community at multiple temporal registers, I take the land as space to be, to know, and to feel--precisely the qualities and practises of being human that continue to be denied by ideological, political, and spatial exclusions, to Black/Indigenous/African people. This work is driven by practises in empathy, and multimodal methodological experimentalism that I hope will demonstrates possibilities for conducting research that is attuned to, and designed to account for, the ways in which the violations and violences our work critiques are so easily reproduced in the forms our processes of knowing production take.

In addition to the primary interests of my dissertation, I am interested in listening and subjectivity; radio and film in Africa; genealogies of Black radical study; and multimodal methods and the decolonial option in research and pedagogy.

I am a University of Pennsylvania Benjamin Franklin Ph.D. fellow, and my work is supported by the Fulbright Scholarship program, and the National Research Foundation in South Africa.