New Orleans Mardi Gras Baby Doll Maskers Recapturing Louisiana Afro-Creole Language and Culture


ACLS HBCU Faculty Grants


Division of Education and Counseling


This project invites members of the vibrant cultural tradition of the New Orleans Baby Dolls, a significant Black Mardi Gras practice, to participate in a performance-based workshop project. The initiative focuses on teaching the participants the folklore of Louisiana's Afro-Creoles and traditional songs in their historic language. Carnival, as a space for unconventional knowledge creation, serves as a platform beyond the formal economy, showcasing the inventive thinking and craftsmanship of African-descended community members. Despite being marginalized as vernacular arts, their folk traditions play a dual role as both adult leisure activities and reflections of societal organization, particularly in response to the enduring legacy of slavery, segregation, urban renewal, and gentrification. This initiative serves as an intervention, addressing imbalances where the creators of this vibrant culture often do not reap the economic benefits generated by the influx of tourist dollars into the city. By reconnecting those involved in this tradition to the language and culture at threat of being lost, the project aims to arm the participants with knowledge and skills they can use to enhance and expand their performance repertoire for their ability to gain a more equitable distribution of the cultural and economic wealth generated by New Orleans' rich heritage.