May 3, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Sarr Receives Baker Fund Grant for Research on Liberated Africans (Creoles) of West Africa

Dr. Assan Sarr, portrait

Dr. Assan Sarr

Dr. Assan Sarr, Assistant Professor in the History Department, is one of five Spring 2018 awardees of the John C. Baker Fund award.

Sarr received $12,000 to support research on his second book project, titled “Liberated Africans (Creoles) of West Africa: The Forster Family of Bathurst (Gambia) and its Diaspora c. 1818-1940.” It is a scholarly biography of the family of a Gambian-born Aku (Creole), named Samuel John Forster. As Sarr notes, “Foster was a member of the Legislative Council, the first Gambian barrister, a Justice of the Peace, a Police Magistrate, and Coroner. In fact, he and his father, Samuel John Forster, Senior, were members of the Council continuously from 1886 to 1906 and 1906 to 1940 respectively, that is, for over half a century. This may be one of the longest continuous period of service by any family in British colonial Africa.”

Sarr’s first book, Islam, Power, and Dependency in the Gambia Rivier Basin: The Politics of Land Control, 1790-1940, was published by the University of Rochester Press in 2016. He was the 2016-17 recipient of the Jeanette G. Grasselli Brown Faculty Teaching Award in the Humanities. Beginning in Fall 2018, Sarr will take up new responsibilities in the History Department as the Director of Graduate Studies. For more on Sarr’s research and teaching interests, visit his department profile.

Endowed in 1961 by a gift of more than $612,000 from 1926 College of Arts & Sciences graduate Edwin L. Kennedy and his wife, Ruth, a 1930 graduate of The Patton College of Education, The John C. Baker Fund was established to support faculty improvement and research efforts. Up to $12,000 is available for each award. The Baker Fund will accept its next round of proposals in fall 2018. For more information about guidelines, forms and requirements for the program, as well as sample funded proposals, please visit: For more information, contact Carma West, grant development coordinator in the Research Division, at or 740-593-0929.

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