In Memoriam: Kariamu Welsh, 1949-2021

Kariamu Welsh, professor emerita of dance at Temple University in Philadelphia, died in October at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She was 72 years old.

A native of Thomasville, North Carolina, Welsh grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in humanities at the University at Buffalo of the State University of New York System. There, she met her husband Molefi Kete Asante, a leading scholar on Afrocentricity. After studying as Fulbright scholars in Africa, the couple joined the faculty at Temple University in the mid 1980s. Dr. Welsh earned a doctorate in dance history at New York University and joined the dance faculty at Temple in 1999.

Dr. Welsh was know for the Umfundalai technique (Kiswahili for “essence” or “essential”), which she described as “a contemporary African dance technique that comprises its movement vocabulary from dance traditions throughout the diaspora.” She was an author and editor of several works on Afrocentricity and Black movement traditions, including  Umfundalai: An African Dance Technique (Africa World Press, 1997) and African Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry (African Word Press, 1996).

Dr. Welsh retired from Temple University in 1999.

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