A Museum Built on Folktales in Benin

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Date: February 26, 2021
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: Virtual event
Category: Lecture

Abstract: Can I tell a tale? The way is clear for the tale! Join Marcy Hessling O’Neil, Ph.D. as she tells the story of Cultural Preservation Through the Arts with her partners in Benin Republic. Over a period of four years they recorded folktales as told by community members and used them as inspiration for an exhibit to showcase Beninese culture. The stories were reimagined by artists, musicians, storytellers, children, and academics. She’ll share all of the ups and downs and in-betweens along the way as they reconfigured the project despite the challenges of COVID-19. This project was selected by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and awarded the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.


Bio: Dr. Marcy Hessling O’Neil is assistant professor of anthropology at Michigan State University, and part-time faculty at Wayne State University. She has conducted ethnographic research among students and their families in Benin Republic and Ghana, West Africa for fifteen years.  O’Neil is a Fulbright alumna, McNair Scholar, and former President of the National Association of Student Anthropologists. She has served on various committees with the American Anthropological Association, including the Mentorship Task Force, and has been a reader for the Mandela Washington Fellowship (Young African Leaders Initiative). O’Neil is co-founder of the social entrepreneurship Three Sisters: Trois Soeurs L3C (threesisters.org). Media appearances include BB24 Television in Benin, WDET Radio in Detroit, Michigan, and the I Heart Radio Network (syndicated globally) to discuss gender and social entrepreneurship. Leadership positions include the UN Major Group on Youth and Children (contributing member), African Studies Association Program Committee, Thematic Chair “Youth in Africa: Restive and Productive Energies,” SolutionsU Innovation Advisory Council, and the Concordia Africa Partnership Accelerator. She has presented her research at conferences in the US, Canada, Finland, Benin, and the UK, and published in NORRAG News and Anthropology News. O’Neil earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Michigan State University, and her MA from Wayne State University. 







February 2021