Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP) @ Illinois

Today’s blog post will introduce you to the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP), an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Illinois focused on studying cultural heritage and museum practices around the world within the context of globalization.

This University Center is headed by Dr. Helaine Silverman – an esteemed professor in the Department of Anthropology with appointments in other University departments, including Art History and Landscape Architecture. CHAMP is comprised of faculty and graduate students at the University of Illinois, visiting scholars, distinguished lecturers, and others who share the center’s major concerns, such as stakeholders’ competing claims to heritage and history, heritage conservation and preservation, and memory work. In keeping with its interdisciplinary nature, individuals involved with the center come from an eclectic array of disciplines, including American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Global Studies, Landscape Architecture, Library and Information Science, and Political Science.

In pursuit of critical dialogue and research, CHAMP sponsors and hosts a number of conferences, film series, guest lectures, and other scholarly events on campus that promote discussions on cultural policies and practices of the past and present. Visit the CHAMP web site for a complete list of Spring 2014 upcoming events, including a much anticipated colloquium entitled The Controversial Dead. This program will be held May 1st , 2014 at Burrill Hall and will focus on how societies across the globe remember and treat their deceased. Featured lectures and discussions will engage questions such as who owns the past and “whose heritage do the dead constitute.” [i]

One of the center’s primary goals is to train students in heritage and museum theory: graduate students in Masters and Doctoral programs at the University of Illinois can become involved with CHAMP by pursuing the Heritage Studies minor and/or Museum Studies minor. The CHAMP website asserts its commitment to training “a new generation of heritage scholars, heritage managers and museum professionals capable of dealing with complex realities and of articulating progressive policies to local and national governments and other agencies,” [ii] including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The minors provided through CHAMP may be of special interest to students of archiving, library science, heritage management, or museology.

Machu Picchu on the eastern Andes mountains. A historic site added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1983. Picture by Charles J Sharp via Wikimedia Commons.

Shortly after beginning graduate school, I was inspired to couple my own Masters curriculum in Library and Information Science and African Studies with a Museum Studies minor. I was interested in engaging the politics of representing identities as told by ‘often one-sided’ narratives in museum installations and dioramas — especially those displaying artifacts and objects with contested histories. While pursuing the Museum Studies minor, my research interests were mainly concerned with the importance of South African museums’ connection and contribution to global conversations on identity formation, marginalized narratives, and indigenous or traditional knowledge production. The District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa was often a research topic of mine since it stands out as a prime example of symbolic restitution and the transformation of South Africa’s heritage sector after the first democratic elections. Today, this small-scale community museum acts to restore a sense of belonging to more than 150,000 South African citizens who were systematically displaced from various areas in Cape Town during a painful legacy of apartheid.

A map on the ground floor of the District Six Museum in Cape Town; visitors who are former residents of District Six are invited to draw place markers on the map to remember their homes and other important localities. Picture re-posted via Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

The Museum Studies minor, consisting of an additional 16 hours of coursework from an approved list of graduate-level classes and a culminating capstone project, greatly enriched my program in African Studies and Library Science because much of the intangible and tangible heritage in continental Africa, such as artworks, performances and traditions, cannot be easily encapsulated in archives and library collections. I highly recommend this program if you are interested in complimenting your graduate degree with culturally enriching courses, practicums and projects.

Check out CHAMP’s latest projects, publications and updates by visiting the Center’s online newsletter. For online and print research resources on history, heritage, identity, globalization, and other interrelated topics from around the world be sure to visit the International and Area Studies Library or contact one of our area specialists.

[i] CHAMP (Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy). “The Controversial Dead: A Colloquium.” (Accessed March 16, 2014).

[ii] CHAMP (Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy). “The Significance of CHAMP in the Contemporary Globalizing World.” (Accessed March 16, 2014).

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Introducing Dr. Kristina Riedel and the Swahili reference resources at the IAS Library

When University students enter classroom for the very first session of their semester-long Swahili course, many are quite surprised to see Dr. Kristina Riedel standing at the lectern or writing the day’s vocabulary list on the board.  They tentatively take their seats, perplexed as the Berlin born linguist hands out syllabi and greets them with Habari Zenu ‘how are you’ in Tanzanian Standard Kiswahili. Students pursuing their first semester of Swahili coursework may be surprised to know that Riedel’s enthusiasm and earnest passion for East African cultures and languages spans the breadth of her young adulthood and much of her academic career.

Riedel took her first trip to Tanzania at the age of fourteen on a family vacation and was immediately smitten with Swahili society and culture. She endeavored to return and make the coast of Tanzania her new home. Years later she pursued her dream by getting enrolled in a four-year Swahili degree program. One of the requirements for the curriculum was a semester-long intensive study abroad program at the Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages in Zanzibar town and another semester at the University of Dar es Salaam. Riedel excelled in Swahili and her quick grasp of the language earned her the respect of Tanzanian students enrolled at both institutions, with some of whom she maintains close friendships to this day.

Dr. Kristina Riedel

At the culmination of her undergraduate studies, she received her B.A. in African Language and Culture, with a concentration in Swahili. Riedel was awarded her M.A. in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2009 in Linguistics from the University of Leiden, having completed her graduate fieldwork and dissertation on the Syntax of object marking in Sambaa – a Bantu language spoken by the Wasambaa people situated in northwestern Tanzania.

Riedel has dedicated much of her academic and professional career to conducting fieldwork on Bantu languages spoken in different parts of Tanzania, namely Swahili – a Coastal lingua franca on the African continent’s east coast spoken in Kenya, mainland Tanzania, the Zanzibar archipelago, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and other Sub-Saharan African nations. She currently serves as the Director and Language Coordinator of Sub-Saharan African Languages, advisor for the Sub-Saharan African Languages Minor, and lecturer of Swahili with the University of Illinois’ Department of Linguistics. She is also one of the catalysts for the new Swahili reference section at the one subject library of our university library – International and Area Studies Library (IASL), located in the Main Library Room 321.

Beginning in fall 2013, Riedel established a relationship with IASL by collaborating with African Studies Bibliographer, Dr. Atoma Batoma, on a central space to access Swahili language reference materials including comprehensive dictionaries, grammar guides, and textbooks, and companion audio CD-ROMs used in the University’s Swahili curriculum. Riedel compiled a list of useful materials shelved in disparate sections within the University Library’s Main Stacks and helped organize their transfer to the International and Area Studies Library’s Africana Reference Collection. These materials are located on a newly designated shelf for Swahili language learners. Riedel hopes that showing the volume of resources available will not only encourage Swahili language learners to utilize the University’s library, but also get an idea of the scope of Swahili materials published and available to them. A current truncated list of Swahili reference books available at the IASL can be found here, but please note that this list is growing as Swahili reference books are transferred from the Main Stacks. These reference books do not circulate, but library patrons may read them in the IASL. They can also scan them at the IASL and send the scans to their email addresses, or save them to their USB flash drives.

Africana Reference Collection  and Swahili materials at the International and Area Studies Library

Aside from the Swahili reference resources at the IASL, Riedel has used other avenues to promote the visibility of topics on East Africa such as offering a new course LING199: Language, culture and identity in East Africa and the Swahili-speaking world. This class covers Swahili language and linguistic diversity in East Africa. Riedel also worked with ATLAS information technology services to design a more robust Swahili Program website for University of Illinois faculty and students. The University’s Swahili Program website has been completely refurbished as she updated a number of the site’s features such as web links to online Swahili dictionaries, the Swahili Proverbs website created and funded by the Center for African Studies,  and resources created at the University of Illinois’ library including: the Africana Film DatabaseAfricana Collections and Services website and the African Studies Internet Portal.

Furthermore, the Swahili website now includes updated information on the 18 credit hour Sub-Saharan African Languages Minor for undergraduate students interested in gaining proficiency in Bamana, Lingala, Swahili, Wolof, or Zulu. This minor requires students to complete coursework in African Studies and Linguistics and compliments nearly any curriculum, especially for students who have an interest in working or studying abroad in Africa. Riedel also encourages Swahili language learners and those interested in East Africa to check out her public YouTube collection of documentaries, movies, news programs, etc.

University of Illinois students seeking to gain proficiency in Swahili can expect a structured, rigorous, and first-rate curriculum from the University of Illinois’ Swahili program and from Dr. Riedel, or as many of her students call her, “Mwalimu ‘teacher’ Kristina.” And beginning this Spring 2014 semester, the IASL now houses a number excellent reference resources on Swahili. We welcome users from various backgrounds to come into our library and use our resources. IASL also has librarians to help you with research questions on these topics.

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Staff Interview Series: Joe Lenkart

For another installment of our staff introductions, I interviewed Joe Lenkart, Interim Manager, Slavic Reference Service (SRS) and the Reference Specialist for Central Asia. Among other accolades, Joe was presented with the Outstanding Academic Professional’s Award from the University of Illinois’ Library in August.

Joe Lenkart has a Masters in Library and Information Science and a MA in Russian and East European Studies. Although he completed his undergraduate studies majoring in Chemistry, his academic and professional interests shifted towards history after attending a lecture on the Eurasian Steppe. Joe has also furthered his scholarly pursuits by volunteering in the Peace Corps. He was stationed in Smolensk region of western Russia.

Image from Russian satirical journal.

What are you most excited about working on here at the IAS Library? Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I am naturally excited about working in the same area that I went to high school. We are in a very unique place. Every summer we have people from all over the world coming here to use our collections. This is a tremendous honor for the State of Illinois and the University Library. It is also a morale booster and a treat because, as a manager of the reference service, I feel good about the audiences we serve.

In terms of future undertakings, we have a collection maintenance project that will involve reorganizing the Slavic microfiche collection, and we will unveil a portals database for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. This is a fully annotated, searchable database. Academic portals in Russia and Eastern Europe are much different because they are repositories for academic content and the community aspect for conducting research. These innovative resources have no equal in North America.

Please describe your typical work day at the library.
I arrive at approximately 7:45 am and I don’t leave until around 5:00 pm. In addition to working with the ILL department, we provide citation verification services, and answer international phone, chat, and email reference inquiries. For our funding agencies, we prepare specialized research guides. This workload continues despite additional projects.

What are your Slavic research and collection development interests?
I am really interested in the indigenous peoples of Siberia – ethnology of these ethnic groups, and specifically their religious identities. These resilient groups have been subjugated very harshly, and yet they have left behind a rich legacy.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a librarian, or any other field prior to your appointment as a librarian?
The recent academic professional award; but more importantly, the Slavic Reference Service gets regularly mentioned by national libraries. We are known as a reliable service and that is the proudest accomplishment.

What attracted you to the field of Library Science and your area of specialty?
For this field you must have an overdose of curiosity. It is a field for curious people and it was a perfect fit for me, having worked as a page at the Champaign Public Library and a clerk at the Douglas Branch. While working as a graduate assistant at the Undergraduate Library, I applied for another assistantship in the Slavic Library. After I was granted the assistantship, I was trained in general and specialized reference. The attraction to the profession was based on my admiration for my colleagues in the Undergraduate Library and the Slavic Reference Service [past and present]. My colleagues are hard-working and above all, they are selfless and extremely generous with their time.

Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What languages do you speak? Etc.
I will use a Bob Dylan line to answer that question: “I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so, I’m on my way home.” I can work with Russian, Turkish, Farsi, and took two years of Hebrew. I took Farsi at Indiana University, Central Eurasian Studies. I also took Spanish for five years during my undergraduate years.

Do you have any career advice for someone interested in librarianship, specializing in Slavic Languages and Literatures?
My best advice is to get your hands dirty. Get to know the physical setting of your workplace. I would recommend that before graduating with a degree in library and information science, you must have your toolkit ready to go for your area of service. You have to adapt with these sources and try to use them on a daily basis. Get back to basics. Theories come and go, but what remains is work. You have to like the daily work of libraries. You have to be willing to spend hours (days) on a reference question. If you cannot do this part, unfortunately, you will need to focus on research.

What is your favorite thing to do in the Champaign-Urbana area?
My favorite thing to do is spending time with my kids in Homer, Illinois.

What is your favorite place you’ve visited, local or anywhere in the world?
My favorite places I’ve visited are Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Most of my graduate career was spent studying these places. It was a real treat to see the places that I researched. For example, the famous Russian geographer Nikolai Mikhailovich Przheval’skii grew up in the village in the Smolensk region of Russia, where I was stationed during my volunteer work with the Peace Corps. I also went on an excursion to the town of Karakol (in Kyrgyzstan) where Przheval’skii died.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel or non-fiction what would it be and why?
If I could have something signed, it would be Great Expectations by Mr. Charles Dickens and The Red Badge of Courage by Mr. Stephen Crane. The characters in these novels made a strong impression on me.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this academic year (2013-2014)?
I am definitely looking forward to the Star Wars revamp. I’m a huge fan of science fiction films and, of course, the Walking Dead.

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Global Food, Locally: Kamakura and Yellowfin Restaurants

“Global Food, Locally”  is a series designed to introduce you to the International and Area Studies Library’s new graduate assistants as well local dining options for food from around the world. In our third installment, Ashley Sheriff reviews the sushi at Kamakura and Yellowfin Japanese Restaurants.

I have lived in Champaign, Illinois for approximately seven consecutive years, having finished my undergraduate program in 2010 and having stayed to pursue a graduate career in both Library and Information Science and African Studies at the University of Illinois. Despite this long residency near campus-town, I’ve only recently discovered both Kamakura on 715 South Neil Street, and Yellowfin on 305 Cedar Street, discreetly hidden behind the County Market. Both restaurants are located west of the University of Illinois’ campus and cater to sushi aficionados, as well as those who are just looking to try something new. Popular items on their menus include  maguro (tuna), himeji (yellowtail), and more adventurous options such as uni (sea urchin) – all precisely cut,  prepared in ways that enhance their natural flavors [i], and presented to diners in aesthetically pleasing arrangements. In addition to ordering at their tables, customers can belly up to the sushi bars, also called the sushi-ya, at both restaurants where they can order sushi à-la-carte and watch the chef prepare each piece.

Out of the many choices for Japanese cuisine in the Champaign-Urbana area, I really enjoyed these sushi hot-spots because they have remarkable selections of cooked and raw sushi combinations in addition to much simpler classics such as maki rolls wrapped in crisp, thin sheets of nori (seaweed); nigiri, or sushi rice topped with fresh fish; and thick, consistently cut slices of salmon, snapper, squid, and tuna sashimi – which are specially cut pieces of raw fish without short-grain white rice or seaweed accompaniments. These traditional treats would not be available to us in the United States without the aid of cultural globalization that increases the flow of ideas, including food creations, between counties.

For example, the sushi boom in California during the 1960s wetted North American appetites for popular Japanese dishes and encouraged experimentation with fusion creations that combined the tastes from multiple cultures – such as the infamous California Roll that incorporates avocado and spicy mayonnaise with crab in a traditional maki roll. Japanese restaurants began to burgeon around the United States and sushi even became a “sign of class and educational standing” [ii] in the 1970s and 1980s.

I’m not sure if my enthusiasm for sushi implies sophisticated taste buds, but my favorite meal at both Yellowfin and Kamakura is Nabe udon soup (very thick wheat flour noodles and tempura vegetables in a mild, beef-flavored broth) and Chirashi, assorted fish such as salmon, tuna, and squid arranged atop vinegar flavored rice. These are milder dishes that work well for first-time customers, but diners can always spice up their sushi by dipping pieces into a mixture of wasabi paste (grated Japanese horseradish) and soy sauce – which are both provided at meals. I’ve ended my dinners at Yellowfin and Kamakura with a sweet confection. The sushi chef at Yellowfin usually gives diners free small desserts such as banana tempura after their meals.

The interior of Yellowfin. This picture is from the restaurant’s website.

If you are interested in Japanese cuisine, be sure to try out some of the restaurants in Champaign-Urbana such as: Kamakura, Kofusion, Oishi, Sakanaya, and Yellowfin, as well as exploring articles and books on Japanese culture and food recipes in the UIUC Library catalog.

Further reading:

[i] Ashkenazi, Michael, and Jeanne Jacob.The essence of Japanese cuisine: an essay on food and culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

[ii] Cwiertka, Katarzyna J. Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity. London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2006.

Nihon Shuppan Bōeki Kabushiki Kaisha. Teriyaki and sushi: selected 73 recipes. Rutland, Vermont: Japan Publications Trading Co., 1963.


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UIUC Lectures on China’s Foreign Direct Investments in Continental Africa

In October, two prominent lecturers, Professors Deborah Brautigam and Ching Kwan Lee discussed and elaborated on the dominant narratives about China, Africa’s current largest trading partner and source of loans, grants and investments in infrastructure projects. On Thursday, October 24, 2013 Dr. Brautigam held a MillerComm Lecture entitled China in Africa: Stripping Away the Myths; this highly anticipated talk was hosted by the Center for African Studies and Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies in conjunction with a number of University of Illinois departments. Dr. Brautigam, who has held several professorial appointments at institutions including Columbia University and  the University of Bergen in Norway, is currently a professor of International Development and Comparative Politics at Johns Hopkins University and has served as a consultant to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund), among other academic and international departments.

The subject of Dr. Brautigam’s talk was the highly contested trade relationships between approximately forty-eight national governments on the African continent and China that, according to many scholars is based on what former Chinese President Hu Jintao described as “win-win cooperation” during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000. Despite President Jintao’s optimism, other academics, economists, and information professionals have pointed out a number of problems including evidence that China’s high demand of raw materials such as minerals, oil, and timber as well as new markets in Africa has caused environmentally destructive extraction practices, strengthened the illicit trade of arms and ivory, and dominated multiple African countries’ manufacturing sectors to the detriment of local industrialists. Dr. Brautigam contests the overwhelmingly negative “stereotypes of conventional wisdom.” She says that in general there is an image of Chinese investors in Africa as rapacious colonizers, propping up dictators, ravaging the environment, and targeting economically weak countries.  Rather, Dr. Brautigam indicated during her lecture that China is fostering industrialization in Africa and that many concerns have been overblown by poorly researched news articles. She also highlighted the benefits of Chinese investment in fiber optic networks, wind turbines, and telecommunications that have been under-reported in news media. You can find out more about Dr. Brautigam’s perspective by reading her book entitled The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa.

Dr. Brautigam’s lecture was preceded by a similar talk on Friday, October 18, 2013. Dr. Ching Kwan Lee, professor of sociology at the University of California, held a lecture on China’s foreign direct investment in Zambia within the Sociology Seminar Series that was organized by the University of Illinois’ Department of Sociology and co-sponsored by the Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy (SDEP) and the African Studies, Asian and Pacific Studies, and Global Studies Area Study Centers. Although the talk was originally titled, The Enigma of Chinese capitalism in Africa: Precarious Labor, Resource Nationalism and the Struggle for South-South Development, it was later changed to Red Dawn: the Power and Peril of Chinese Capitalism in Africa in an effort to find a working title for her forthcoming book.  Dr. Lee’s talk addressed the discourses around China’s investments into Zambian infrastructure such as copper mines and the construction sector, and posited some pertinent research questions such as, what is the peculiarity of Chinese investments in Zambia? And what does [this investment] mean for Zambian development?

China-Zambian mining relationships have been beneficial as well as contentious; for example, China Non-Ferrous Metals Corporation (CNMC) acquired the Zambia’s Chambishi Copper Mine in 1998, rehabilitated it by 2005 and employed more than 1,000 Zambians, but Chinese-owned mining companies have been implicated in denying Zambian miners pay equal to their Chinese counterparts, using excessive force during disputes and wage protests, and for firing large numbers of Zambian workers on strike. Strikes by workers, who “agitate for improved conditions and higher wages” (Bariyo, 2011) are not uncommon.

In response to criticisms and bad press against China’s investments in Africa, both speakers contend that China’s investment model reflects the country’s need to foster long-term, sustainable relationships with African economies and governments. Brautigam maintains that China has the following optimistic outlook on their trade relations with Africa: “Let’s do business and let’s make it mutually beneficial; if it’s not mutually beneficial, it is not sustainable.”

Learn more about China’s trade relations in Africa with resources at the University of Illinois’ Library. The UIUC library has a number of books on this topic, namely:

Alden, Chris. China in Africa. London; New York: Zed Books, 2007.

Ampiah, Kweku and Sanusha Naidu. Crouching tiger, hidden dragon?: Africa and China. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008.

Brautigam, Deborah. The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of Africa in China. UK: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Cheru, Fantu and Cyril Obi, eds. The rise of China and India in Africa: challenges, opportunities and critical interventions. London: Zed Books, 2010.

Dent, Christopher M. ed. China and Africa Development Relations. Abingdon, England: Routledge, 2011.

Works cited:

Bariyo, Nicholas. “Chinese Miner Fires Workers in Zambia.” The Wall Street Journal 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

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