Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York



The Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP), with its focus on African immigration seeks to examine the situation of African immigrants in the Bronx with an aim of capturing their complex and varied experiences in the United States of America in general, and the Bronx in particular. Using Oral History research method, the project analyzes the social, cultural, economic and historical aspects of African immigrants living in the Bronx. Our goal is to provide insights into the immigrants’ differentiated lived experiences, and their social, cultural and economic institutions.  Rather than simply assessing the needs and challenges of African immigrants, this project adds a new dimension to the growing scholarship on African immigration to the United States by analyzing the social, cultural, economic and intellectual contributions that African immigrants make to their host society, including the linkages they build between local communities in America and Africa.   

The study examines the social and historical experiences of African immigrants living in the Bronx. The research covers the period from 1985 to the present. It is the period when African immigrants, especially people from West Africa began moving into Central Bronx. The research intends to document and analyze the life history of African immigrants’ families, housing, race relations, pattern of migration, music, art, sports, religion, political and economic issues, educational experiences, gender issues, community organizing, immigrants’ social institutions and other aspects relevant to the African immigrant communities in the Bronx.     

In order to accomplish its goals, the project will:

1.    Identify African leaders (religious and community leaders) and explain to them the goals and purpose of studying African immigrants in the Bronx. This process is integral to creating linkages and establishing trust and understanding with the community under study.

2.    Collect and compile a directory of African immigrant institutions located in the Bronx. These include houses of worship-- churches and Mosques- as well as African owned markets, restaurants, hair salons, law firms, movie and music Stores, boutiques, community organizations, and other social, cultural and economic institutions.

3.    Conduct in-depth one-on-one oral history interviews with different members of the African immigrant community to document their histories and socio-cultural and economic experiences in the Bronx.

4.    Identify institutions located in the Bronx that are working with or providing services to the African immigrant community with the aim of establishing collaborative   relationships with such institutions.      

Oral history interviewing will be used to collect information from participants about the past and the present. The goal is to gather data not available in written records about people, events, processes and social institutions. Observation and participant observation, and review of existing documentations, scholarly writings and records on African immigrants’ experiences such as religious pamphlets, community newspapers, magazines, event programs, and demographic analysis will also be employed in addition to oral history interviewing.

Interviews will last between one to three hours in length and may take place in more than one session. Generally, interviews will be conducted at Fordham University, Rose Hill Campus in the Bronx. However, the interviewer and participants may agree upon a location for off-campus interviews if necessary. The date and time of the interview will also be agreed upon by the interviewer and the participants. Interviews will be audio and/or video taped to facilitate transcription and documentation.

The research employs an epistemology that uses unstructured, open-ended questions to guide the interview process. Interview questions will focus on family life, housing, race relations, patterns of migration, music, sport, religion, political and economic issues, educational experiences, gender issues, organizing and social institutions, and other aspects relevant to the African immigrant community.

Dr. Mark Naison – Principal Investigator (BAAHP)

Dr. Jane Kani Edward – Director of African Immigration Research (BAAHP)

About Dr. Edward

Dr. Jane Kani Edward was born and raised in southern Sudan, and educated in Sudan, Egypt and Canada. Edward received her Ph.D. in Sociology in Education from the University of Toronto in 2004. Currently she is a Pot-Doctoral Fellow and Director of African Immigration Research, the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP), at Department of African and African American Studies, Fordham University. Edward’s areas of research interest center on refugee and immigrant Women’s Experience, human rights and education, development, equity and social justice issues, gender, race, class and representation, gender issues in conflict and post-conflict situations, and African Immigration to the United States. Dr. Edward carried out research work among southern Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons in Egypt, Uganda and southern Sudan. Some of her publications include, Sudanese Women Refugees: Transformations and Future Imaginings. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007; “The Consequences of Sudan’s Civil Wars on the Civilian Population,” pp. 227-252. In Civilians in Wartime Africa from Slavery Days to the Rwandan Genocide (ed.) John Laband. Westport Ct: The Greenwood Press, 2006; “Southern Sudanese Refugee Women: questioning the Past Imagining the Future,” pp. 2072-289. In Women’s Rights and Human rights: International Historical Perspectives, edited by Patricia Grimshaw, Katie Holmes and Marilyn Lake, London: Palgrave, 2001.

Contact Information
Dr. Jane Kani Edward
Post-Doctoral Fellow and Director of African Immigration Research
The Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP)
Department of African and African American Studies
641 Dealy Hall, Fordham University
Rosehill Campus
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

© 2008 Bronx African-American History Project at Fordham University

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