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The Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies

New in Fall 2016, the Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies is a center for experiential learning and research in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

The Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies examines the historical migration and scattering of African populations to local geographical areas and the subsequent evolution of blended cultures, specifically Gullah. CCU’s location at the northern tip of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor puts it in a unique position for diaspora study and research. The work of the institute provides students with experiential learning opportunities, both at home and abroad, that center on interconnections among local, national and global peoples and their societies. 

The Charles Joyner Institute is comprised of experiential learning projects, special events, and a minor in African Diaspora Studies.

African Diaspora Studies minor

African Diaspora Studies minor courses spring 17 


Upcoming Events

Dr. Francis Morean, Visiting Scholar 

Francis Morean visiting scholar for Joyner Institute.  (April 2017)

Wednesday, April 19

4:00 PM | Brittan Hall, Room 240

A graduate of the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine,  he is an ethno-botanist,  traditional healer and  pioneer in studies pertaining to the use of local plants as sources of folk medicines,  handicraft material, dyes, horticulture and landscaping,  insecticides, edible oils and sources of other foods, indigenous housing techniques, honey production and for other purposes. He has a special interest in environmental conservation, environmental education and the sustainable utilization of natural resources in tropical countries.

During his visit to CCU, he will be talking about the survival and persistence of Hill Rice and other aspects of African food plants and African food ways in Trinidad and Tobago.  Hill Rice, known as bearded upland rice in the United States, was one of the West African rice varieties planted in the late 18th and 19th centuries.  He is in our region because of the close connection between his culture in Trinidad and the Gullah Geechee people, both outgrowths of the African Diaspora.

Presented by: The Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies and the Departments of History and Athropology and Geography.  



Shared Traditions: A Fundraiser to Support the Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and Diaspora Studies

Saturday, April 1

7:30 PM | Edwards Recital Hall

This fundraiser celebrates the life, career and scholarship of Charles “Chaz” Joyner (1935-2016), who served as Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at CCU during his tenure of more than three decades. The program features live selections of Joyner’s favorite music, including songs and spirituals performed by CCU alumnus Shirra Ward and folk and jazz arrangements performed by the CCU Jazz Combo. The program also traces highlights of Joyner’s career at CCU and his contribution to Southern studies. Proceeds will benefit scholarships and programming for the Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies.

Cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m.; Program at 7:30 p.m.; Dessert Reception at 9 p.m.

Presented by: Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts


For Tickets, call 843-349-2421.


Recent Events

Portia Maultsby, Ph.D.
Author and Co-editor of African American Music: An Introduction
Discussion on “Black Gospel Music in the Netherlands”

Thursday, November 3

5 p.m. | Edwards Building, Room 251

Portia K. Maultsby is the Laura Boulton Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology of founding director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University. She is also the founding director of the Indiana University Soul Revue, an ensemble specializing in black popular music. Professor Maultsby is a specialist in African American music with a focus on religious and popular traditions, and the music industry. Dr. Maultsby received the M.M. in Musicology and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Maultsby will discuss the ways that Black Gospel in the Netherlands serves multiple functions, and give rise to localized meanings and performance expectations. She will present a case study of Edith Casteleyn, a Dutch director of five choirs in the Netherlands, who performs what she describes as “authentic” Black American gospel music.



Nancy Smith Distinguished Visiting Lecturer

Cornel West, Ph.D.

Friday, September 16

7 p.m. | Wheelwright Auditorium

Cornel West, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, presents the keynote address at the inauguration of the Charles Joyner Institute of Gullah and African Diaspora Studies. West has written more than 20 books, most notably Race Matters and Democracy Matters. The Charles Joyner Institute was established in Spring 2016 at CCU to foster interdisciplinary examinations of Gullah culture and to explore local and global effects of the African Diaspora as they relate to contemporary issues. The work of the institute centers upon the interactions and interconnections among various local, national and global actors, peoples and their societies, and will provide students with experiential learning opportunities, locally and abroad.

Presented by: Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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About Charles Joyner

Charles Joyner on porch of Prince Building

Charles Joyner (1935-2016) served as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Southern History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University, where he taught for more than three decades.

An eminent scholar of American slavery, Joyner was best known for his groundbreaking work, Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community, a chronicle of rice plantations of the Waccamaw Neck that won the National University Press Book Award in 1984. The book carefully reconstructs the daily life of this vibrant Gullah community, covering its language, religion, folk traditions, and music. His other books include Remember Me: Slave Life in Coastal Georgia and Shared Traditions: Southern History and Folk Culture.

Joyner lectured extensively on Southern history and culture in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Australia. He also served as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Mississippi; and the University of Sydney in Australia.

For 17 years, Joyner served as director of the Waccamaw Center for Historical and Cultural Studies. In 2011, the South Carolina Academy of Authors inducted Joyner into its literary hall of fame. The following year, he was awarded CCU’s first university medallion at Founders Day ceremonies. His numerous other awards included honorary life membership in BrANCH (British American Nineteenth-Century Historians), the South Carolina Humanities Council’s Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities, and the Lifetime Commitment Award from Bluegrass on the Waccamaw, a local music organization.

Joyner held two earned doctorates: a Ph.D. in history from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. in folklore and folk life from the University of Pennsylvania. He also pursued postdoctoral studies in comparative slave societies at Harvard University.


Affiliated Projects and Programs

Learn more about other CCU initiatives and programs that intersect with the Institute's local and global research.