HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in English on Lorenzo Dow Turner, the first African-American linguist.

Amos, Alcione M., 2021. “Connecting Communities through Language: Life and Work of Lorenzo Dow Turner,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL BEROSE: article2198.html

The anthropological legacy of Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972), the first African-American linguist, has an impact beyond linguistics, namely in African-American, Afro-Brazilian, and transatlantic history. Turner’s research started in the early 1930s in South Carolina and Georgia when he interviewed Gullah speakers. It continued in the 1940s in Brazil, when he worked with the people of the Candomblé houses of worship (terreiros); and in Africa in the 1950s, when he researched mostly in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In this inspiring article, Alcione Amos, curator at the Anacostia Community Museum, sustains that the essence of Turner’s linguistic ethnography consisted of connecting communities of the African diaspora – even before he was able to go to Africa – through language. Starting with his pioneering work among the Gullah, continuing with his studies in London and his visit to the Exposition Internationale in Paris, through his sojourn in Bahia and finally into his visit to African countries, Amos reveals how Turner could always connect his audiences to other peoples by playing his recordings. Much of the material collected by Lorenzo Dow Turner among the U.S. Gullah, in Brazil, and in Africa, remains unexplored to this day. Appearing in a BEROSE topical dossier giving access to audio and video files, photographs, and other resources at Anacostia Community Museum and other institutions, Amos’s article encourages a new generation of researchers to dedicate themselves to further explorations of this important material. 

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