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Carla Martin

College Fellow of African and African American Studies
Contact Information

Barker Center 259
(617) 495-4113
Department of African and African American Studies
12 Quincy St.
Cambridge, MA 02138


Carla D. Martin is a postdoctoral Harvard College Fellow in the Department of African and African American Studies, where she teaches classes on African popular culture, black ethnic diversity, race and technology, and chocolate and food politics. Her current research projects focus on language, music, and digital media in the former Portuguese colonies and the politics of cacao and chocolate in Africa and North America.

A social anthropologist with interdisciplinary interests that include history, ethnomusicology, and linguistics, Martin received her Ph.D. in African and African American Studies from Harvard University in 2012. Her doctoral dissertation, entitled "Sounding Creole: The Politics of Cape Verdean Language, Music, and Diaspora," examines the longstanding problem of language inequality in Cape Verde and its large diaspora and how scholars and creative artists have both perpetuated and challenged this inequality. Historical and ethnographic research charts the elements of language, race, gender, and social class expressed through music and the arts into the sociopolitical world of which they are a part and analysis probes the ongoing, fruitful interventions and subversions made by Cape Verdean performers in debates surrounding the meaning of womanhood, "Africanness," and "Creoleness." 

While completing her dissertation, Martin began conducting research on the global cacao and chocolate industry, particularly in relation to the ethical issues that impact farmers, producers, and consumers of one of the world's most popular sweets. Since 2011, she has maintained a scholarly blog on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food at Bittersweet Notes. This blog, along with her social media activity via Twitter and Facebook brings together her interests in culture, social engagement, and digital media.

For several years, Martin has worked with Cape Verdean communities in Africa, Europe, and the United States on a variety of ethnographic and archival research and social engagement projects. Her writing, editing, and translation work has been published in The Root, Transition Magazine, Sodade Magazine, and The Savannah Review (forthcoming). She has taught extensively in African and African American Studies, social anthropology, and ethnomusicology, and has received numerous awards in recognition of excellence in teaching. Prior to the Ph.D., she received an A.M. in Anthropology in 2007, and an A.B. in Anthropology in 2003, also from Harvard University.