Stanford Center for African Studies, 50th Celebration / by Alexandra Nana-Sinkam

I remember my first day walking into the Center for African studies with acute nostalgia. The epitome of bold naivety, I shuffled in there roaring for the world. Really, it was quite embarrassing. 

Though emotionally cringe-worthy, I'm fond of the memory because it represents my entry into a community that heavily influenced me. Through CAS, I learned the nuances of intellectualism; that is, the guilt of studying cultures that are yours but are not yours and surely belong more significantly to others. I learned the frustration of application: the hypocrisy of being an Africanist while studying in the sun-kissed towers of our California kingdom. I began to understand the importance of sharing the sting of academic insecurity and burnt dreams. Level setting with yourself through the support of others. I ate a lot of chocolate. Read a lot of books. Raced to finish many applications there.

All this to say. Coming back to this community and attempting to distill it was an artistic challenge and honor. I shot members of the CAS community (alumni, friends, current students, family)  in a rapid 2 hour window during an afternoon in November. The hope was that in capturing each individual's interpretation of this place, we could bring to light how diverse yet singular this community actually is. Month's later, the prints came to life in an exhibit to celebrate the Center's 50th anniversary. They'll be hanging there until the end of the school year. Here are a couple of my favorite shots, plus some photos taken at the exhibit.