Skip to main content

About The African Studies Center

The faculty, students, and staff of the African Studies Center work to provide the University and the people of North Carolina with a campus hub for interdisciplinary inquiry and communication on Africa. Our activities include sponsoring a wide variety of activities, bringing together interested faculty and students from a large number of academic disciplines.

We focus on interconnected issues of political change, expressive culture, gender, sustainability, health, and Islam. We are located in the FedEx Global Education Center on the UNC Campus and are part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

About the Project

The African Studies Center has been awarded a grant from the Oak Foundation for a project, “K-5 digital learning of contemporary Africa using technology,” which will produce resources for elementary school educators. The ASC, in collaboration with UNC’s School of Education, will use the grant to create lesson plans and user guides and curated social studies, arts, and music content focused on Africa that teachers can use in the classroom. The strategy of digitizing up-to-date content in this pilot program will align with pedagogical best practices and classroom-based and remote learning hybrid models. The project intends to create accessible, interactive, and current web-based resources for educators. The Oak Foundation is a global funding organization that commits its resources to addressing global, social, and environmental issues.

Our People

Expert Content Group Members


Jenny Marvel

Hello!  My name is Jenny Marvel, and I am the Head of School and Community Programs at the Ackland Art Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill. I have a BA in Art History from the University of North Texas and a MA in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University. Prior to the Ackland Art Museum, I worked in a variety of education departments including The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, The Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA), and the Dallas Museum of Art. My experience includes developing, implementing, and assessing school and community tours, online resource materials for students and teachers, and cross-cultural and interdisciplinary teacher workshops. When not at work, I love going on walking treks in nature – some of my favorite long-distance walks (so far) include the Camino de Santiago in Spain, Hadrian’s Wall in England, the Inca Trail in Peru, and walking from hill town to hill town in Tuscany, Italy.

Victoria Rovine

Hello!  I’m Vicki Rovine, subject specialist for the arts, Professor of African art history, and Director of the African Studies Center at UNC. I study African textiles and clothing, subjects that have fascinated me since my first job as a recent college graduate, working in the galleries of the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago). I was stopped in my tracks by a museum display case full of clothing and beadwork from Central Africa. I had never seen such amazing, animated patterns, such elaborate dyeing, embroidery, and beadwork—I had to learn more. I went on to write my dissertation on a type of textile in Mali, living in Mali for a year to learn all about its place in people’s lives. I’ve published two books on African cloth and clothing. I love teaching African art history to students of all ages.

Tara Wilson

Greetings!  My name is Tara Wilson.  I’m a proud North Carolina native and Elementary Art Educator for Guilford County Schools.  I currently serve as an Art Teacher at Bluford-Peeler STEAM Academy and Foust Elementary School in Greensboro, N.C.  In 2007, I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A & T State University.  I completed additional Visual Art studies at Guilford Technical Community College.  I truly enjoy all things creative!  As an Art Teacher, I have the unique ability to encourage self-expression, while teaching my students to critically think.  I strive to encourage my scholars to be original and understand that there are no mistakes in art.  In July of 2022, I had the honor of traveling to Dakar, Senegal, with the Oak Foundation Team.  During my free time, I love crafting, event planning, shopping, traveling, spending time with family, and attending my son’s games.  Additionally, I find pleasure in serving the community with my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Social Studies

Amy Barsanti

Hello there! I’m Amy Barsanti, and I teach 2nd grade in Jamesville, North Carolina. I have an MS in Elementary Education and an MEd in STEM Science, which was an extension of a NASA Endeavor STEM Teaching Program Fellowship. I enjoy traveling and participating in community theater. During the past two summers, I have traveled as part of educational cohorts to Iceland, Zimbabwe, and Senegal.

Samba Camara

Samba Camara is a Teaching Assistant Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published articles and book chapters on Senegalese popular music, culture, and West African Islamic cultural production. His current monograph explores the Afropolitan ethics of personhood in urban Senegalese popular music. He is the co-PI of a digitization project, funded by the British Library, and that preserved over 6,000 pages of endangered Pulaar Islamic poetry. Dr. Camara teaches courses in global black popular cultures, African literatures, black-Islamic cultures, and the Wolof language.

Erica Luetzow
Hello!  My name is Erica Luetzow, and I teach a specials class called Cultural Studies at Club Blvd. Elementary School in Durham, NC.  I have a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Sociology and German, and I have taught kids from age 5 to 18 in a variety of educational settings.  As an educator, I value promoting curiosity, building connections, and global learning, and I know that we have had a good class when my students leave still asking “what if” questions, borrowing story books from my library, and leaving me drawings of mythical creatures.

Nancy Akomaniwaa Andoh
Hi! I am Nancy Akomaniwaa Andoh, a Ghanaian from West Africa. I am proud to have a Master of Philosophy Degree in Human Rights and a Master’s in History. Currently, I am pursuing my doctorate at UNC’s Department of History. My current research is centered around the history of trauma during periods of pandemics and epidemics in colonial Ghana, bringing into new context the socio-cultural complexities that shaped thoughts on health and healing from the late 19th and 20th centuries. I am also an animal lover, with a special place in my heart for dogs. You might be interested to know that I recently reviewed Herman L. Bennett’s groundbreaking work titled “African Kings and Black Slaves: Sovereignty and Dispossession in the Early Modern Atlantic,” published by the African American Intellectual History Society in 2023. My insights offer valuable contributions to the academic discourse. In addition, I appraised an 18th-century Nigerian artifact known as Ògbóni/Òsùgbó rattle, which is currently on display at the Auckland Museum. Lastly, I am a delightful person who strives to get along easily with everyone and treat everyone with respect and love.


Kimberly Freeman

I am a second-grade teacher at Guilford County Schools in North Carolina.  I have ten years of teaching experience with a passion for equity and inclusion for all students using innovation through curriculum design, educational technology, and global education. I facilitate professional development and develop instructional content for teachers through various educational organizations serving public education, students, and teachers.  I specialize in designing and implementing an integrated literacy and social studies curriculum to introduce my students to the infinite possibilities in international education to address the inequity of enrichment activities for underrepresented student populations.

Dave Pier

I’m an Associate Professor in Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, and have been teaching at UNC since 2009. My research has been on music and cultural politics in Uganda, and I have published a book, Ugandan Music in the Marketing Era: The Branded Arena (Palgrave, 2015), as well as a number of articles. I earned my PhD in Ethnomusicology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, where Steven Blum was my advisor. I have always loved playing music—jazz piano in my early decades, and, more recently, classical guitar. I have been researching a Ugandan guitar-based genre known as kadongo kamu (“One Little Guitar”.) When not engaged in academic and musical pursuits, I am known to sew and knit clothing for myself and my family.

Leslie Roberts

My name is Leslie Roberts and I am a K-5 General Music Teacher at Weddington Hills Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina. This is my 12th year teaching in Cabarrus County and I teach at the school where I was once a student. I received a Bachelors in Music Education from the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University in 2010. I first joined UNCC as a World View Scholar in 2019 where I participated in creating lessons to accompany an album by Wu Fei and Abigail Washburne. One of those music lesson plans was selected to be added to the Smithsonian Folkways database. I’m back again with UNCC, this time to join the African Studies program in hopes of bringing modern West Africa into my own music classroom and to the classrooms of other North Carolina music teachers seeking to enrich and diversify the way they teach about the world.

Supporting the three groups are

Barbara Anderson

My name is Barbara Anderson. I am recently retired from 35 years of teaching African American History at UNC, where I also helped found the African Studies Center. Working as a consultant in African Studies allows me to make use of my Master’s degree in History from UNC and several years of graduate study in Continuing Professional Education at NC State. I enjoy crochet, art, and travel, and I am always happiest beside a creek in the woods.

Cheryl Bolick

Cheryl Mason Bolick is an Associate Professor and Director of the M.A.T. program in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a former classroom teacher who has spent more than 20 years studying different dimensions of social studies education. She led some of the first efforts to integrate technology into social studies teacher education. Bolick has a long history of developing digital history curriculum materials and studying the use of digital history in social studies teacher education. This work laid the foundation for her current research interest in experiential education in social studies teacher education.

Joanneke Fleischauer

My name is Joanneke Fleischauer. I have served as the African Studies Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2019. I earned my Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology with a concentration in African Studies from Wake Forest University, as well as a second Master’s degree in Information and Library Studies from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. I am passionate about teaching students the ins and outs of library research. In my spare time I like running, travelling back to my home country of the Netherlands, and learning Kiswahili.

Diana Tursi

Diana Tursi is a doctoral candidate in the UNC School of Education, where she also received her Master’s degree. Diana taught for 12 years in North Carolina classrooms, and also spent several summers teaching in Kenya, where she fell in love with the people, culture, food, and land. Diana is passionate about empowering teachers to become world changers. When she’s not working, you’ll find her in a Pilates class, a thrift store, or spending time outside with her family.

Ada Umenwaliri

Hi! I’m Nigerian and a mom to three wonderful first-generation American girls, and we call Chapel Hill home. I have over 18 years of combined experience working in public policy, international development, and, more recently, higher education. My daughters and I are adventurous and love being active. I’m the Associate Director at the African Studies Center, UNC-CH, where I lead strategic initiatives to promote knowledge about Africa within our community and wider. I have graduate degrees from the University of London and Duke University, and currently working hard at a Ph.D. program at UNC!