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Lerin Williams

Global South Fellowship 2018

Lerin Williams is a master’s student in Ethnomusicology whose research interests lie in the intersection of cultural tourism, gentrification, and the effects of systemic racism on cultural continuities. Additional interests include: cultural practices of the African diaspora, state-sanctioned violence, and transnational movements of liberation and resistance. Williams received a bachelor’s degree in music education with a minor in jazz studies. In the North Carolina public school system, she has taught full-time and volunteered with youth and teens in her community. While living in Brasil, Williams studied capoeira Angola, samba, and Afro-Brazilian rhythms with jazz -influenced approaches to harmony and form. She has also worked with community –led organizations that teach self-affirmation through the study of African- derived traditions. As a pianist, Williams has performed and recorded with a samba reggae band. In New Orleans, Williams has performed at the New Orleans Jazz Museum with DOTLO


The aim of this research project is to evaluate the cultural tourism industry in Salvador, Bahia. By identifying systemic policies that directly affect culture bearers, I hope to gain a greater understanding of structural versus grassroots approaches to the myriad manifestations of culture. I also seek to interpret the ways in which the tourism industry intersects with these approaches. The commodification of black culture has inherent outcomes that I seek to outline through my research. The following questions informed the direction of my inquiry: Which narratives are promulgated and who defines the identities that are being represented to the tourist audience? In constructing a history, identity, and culture, what types of marginalizations can occur? How do culture bearers navigate this process? When considering cultural continuity, Afro-Brazilian traditions embody the capacity to transform a space, and create opportunities for entrepreneurship amidst intensifying police brutality, unemployment rates, exclusionary urban development, and mass incarceration. This research project will create a South American counterpart to the political, racial, and socioeconomic complexities experienced by New Orleanian culture bearers and their communities.