CHI Fellow Introduction: Bernard C. Moore
My name is Bernard Moore. I am currently a second-year M.A. student in MSU’s African American & African Studies program. I received a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Fordham University in New York, and prior to coming to MSU I worked as an assessor for the City of New York’s property valuation division.
Since 2011 I’ve been heavily involved in Namibian Studies, very much on the periphery of African Studies (which itself is on the periphery of academia). In 2012, I completed a number of documentary films on Namibian history which were broadcast for the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation for Heroes’ Day 2014, Black History Month 2015, and for the 2015 Inauguration of President Dr. Hage Geingob. The film From Windhoek to Washington (co-produced with Matthew Ecker) has been screened on a number of occasions in the USA and Namibia. The interviews for the film project were archived at the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien in Switzerland. I also assisted in the conferral of an honorary doctorate for Namibia’s president, Dr. Hage Geingob, from Fordham University, where I screened a short film on his activism at the United Nations.
Regarding academic study of Namibia, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the history of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), which I eventually expanded upon and reworked with additional oral history materials from additional research trips to Namibia (you can view it here). More recently, however, I’ve been engaged in the study of Southern Namibia (on the periphery of Namibian Studies) during the interwar colonial period. I’m particularly interested in labor history and understanding how seemingly unrelated colonial policies were actually intricately tied to issues of labor shortages, worker discipline, and colonial control. I argue that this period was crucial in bringing in apartheid into Southern Namibia, and unsurprisingly, I draw heavily from Marxian Theory, my other research interest. For my M.A. Thesis specifically, I’m looking at Dog Taxation policies, as well as hunting and game laws. I’ve recently presented my preliminary M.A. Thesis work at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, and I’ve published a short “popular history” piece in the Namibian newspaper on the same material.
I’m also collaborating with a few colleagues at the Namibian to curate a biweekly public history column called “Know the History”; assuming all goes according to plan, my Dog Tax piece will be the pilot, with several more starting in November. The goal is to feature work that academics are doing in the National Archives and hopefully “democratize knowledge” to a small extent, and at least make a small dent in the effects of “academic imperialism.”
My work for the CHI Fellowship is tied to these issues of democratizing knowledge. Since January, I’ve been digitizing old books, film, and miscellaneous publications on or from Namibia. Most of these items are out of print and orphan copyright, otherwise I’ve received permission from the perceived copyright holder. The goal of the project is to make available full-text books and full-length film in an easy to navigate Omeka repository that won’t bog down low-bandwidth connections prominent in Namibia. Far too much Namibiana materials simply cannot be accessed in Namibian libraries and institutions for issues relating to cost. Although my repository will be more of use to Namibia-based academics and researchers, the films and books are of interest to anyone from or working on Namibia. You can take a look at my work-in-progress here.
Thank you all, and I’m looking forward to this year with CHI!