Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

Xavier University professor of counseling and education Kim Vaz-Deville has been named to the Harvard Radcliffe Institute’s 2023-2024 cohort of fellows to pursue her work in New Orleans studies.

The prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship allows intellectuals in a wide variety of research to persevere in the resource-rich environment of Harvard. Spanning across humanities, sciences, engineering, and the arts, this year’s class includes scholars in vastly different disciplines from around the world, according to a release. The fellowship will run for its 23rd year, from September to May 2024. 

“This year’s cohort promises, once again, to accomplish incredible things,” said the dean of the Radcliffe Institute, Tomiko Brown-Nagin, in a news release. “As ever, we have outstanding fellows with expertise in a wide range of fields.” 

Vaz-Deville is a native of New Orleans. After earning her Ph.D. from Indiana University, Vaz-Deville became a professor at Xavier University in 2011. Her interest in the Baby Dolls of Carnival led to her first book, “The Baby Dolls: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition,” published in 2013.

Her work was also presented in museum exhibits across the world, from the Louisiana State Museum’s 2013 exhibition to the “Black Indians from New Orleans” exhibit in Paris’ Musee du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. 

Vaz-Deville, part of the 3.3% of applicants accepted by Radcliffe, will use the opportunity to write her second book, “The Art of Resistance: Sacred Visual Creations of New Orleans’ African American Mardi Gras Maskers.” Vaz-Deville will explore the practice of Mardi Gras masking and the controversy that surrounds the recent alignment with spirituality that has influenced many African American maskers in the past decades. Her book will tell the story of the expansion of traditional Black masking subject matter and shed light on the history of the regalia that characterizes part of the Carnival season. 

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