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The Virtual Freedom Trail Project: Re-visioning Gender in African Liberation in Tanzania

Faculty Mentor: Marla Jaksch

Students: Alyssa Fountain & Shannon Grooms

Throughout the Summer of 2012, Women’s and Gender studies majors Alyssa Fountain and Shannon Grooms assisted Dr. Marla Jaksch on a transcontinental research project known as The Virtual Freedom Trail Project: Re-visioning Gender in African Liberation in Tanzania.  The students used resources available to them in Tanzania and the United States to compile information that will be consolidated on an interactive website.

The Virtual Freedom Trail focuses on Tanzanian women’s roles in liberation movements that span the entire continent of Africa, including Tanzania.  The country of Tanzania, located on the east coast of Africa, played a critical role in supporting freedom fighters throughout the continent, yet the roles of women from all walks of life are often undocumented.  Tanzania, which recently celebrated 50 years of liberation, is home to many powerful activist women and the Virtual Freedom Trail project intends to share their stories.

Shannon and Alyssa explored the archives at the University of Dar es Salaam library, working with scholars in the East African archives, Gender Library, and International Development Studies department.  The students gained access to primary sources and original documents found only in Tanzania and assisted Dr. Jaksch in sifting through the many resources she has collected on her own.  They also composed a list of women to be interviewed in the future, often as the result of friendly conversations with local men and women.  Their work with Dr. Jaksch will continue throughout the Summer of 2012, as all three women are eager to share the Virtual Freedom Trail Project with their peers worldwide.