Nii Ayikwei Parkes
2022-2023: Hutchins Family Fellow
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is an award-winning Ghanaian-British author. Parkes serves on the editorial board of World Literature Today.
Parkes’s fellowship project The Remainder Project reflects on the historical, heritage and emotional gaps that exist between Africa and its diaspora. The research will be dedicated to synthesizing an exploratory approach that counters the prevailing way of looking at the massive cataclysm that the transatlantic slave trade triggered in Africa and the New World. Based on the idea that you cannot remove a tree without leaving signs – on the ground you will find leaves, beneath the ground there will be roots – its central question is, what do we lose by not exploring, celebrating, and building from the fragments of language, philosophy and culture that survived in the New World – the remainders? More than a one-off research project, it is also an exhortation, a call for other scholars working in related disciplines such as History, Philosophy, African and Africana Studies, to shift their starting points to consider the more expansive possibilities that this approach might offer. The focus during the fellowship period will be historical American and Caribbean connections with Africa through the funnel of Parkes’s family, but fanning into language, food, migratory patterns, and multiple histories of resistance, the immediate output being a body of non-fiction work that is accessible to general readers.