President of the Society of Black Graduate and Professional Students, college advisor for the Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and soon to be graduate in May 2022 with an MFA in creative writing, fiction. Michaeljulius Idani’s resume is covered with opportunities far and wide that he’s been afforded at the University of Iowa. All of this he has accomplished while conducting international research funded by the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research, an award he received in 2021.
"The Stanley award was invaluable, my research couldn’t have happened without the funding."
“My research project entitled, Unsettled Resettlement: The lives of the Krio in Sierra Leone, focused on the lives of liberated Africans from around the world that were disposed in the Crown colony of Freetown, Sierra Leone, after the British Empire abolished the Atlantic slave trade in 1807,” said Idani. “The liberated Africans that arrived in Freetown spoke different languages, worshipped different Gods, and practiced different customs, but quickly melded into a new people with a shared language called Krio.”
Utilizing resources from the University of Iowa Libraries and the Liberated Africans Project, a free digitalized repository of historical documents made available by different governments and research institutions, Idani conducted his research here in Iowa City when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from travelling to Sierra Leone directly.
“While travel restrictions and lockdowns meant that I would need to pursue my research from Iowa City, I was fortunate to have the University of Iowa Libraries as they possess one of the largest collections of Sierra Leonean oral folk stories held outside of Sierra Leone,” shared Idani. “Through my research, I was able to digitally map the universe of available resources related to Sierra Leone and the Krio people and now plan to produce a collection of short stories and begin work on a novel influenced by my research.”
The Stanley Graduate Award for International Research, funded by the Stanley-University of Iowa Foundation Support Organization, gave Idani the resources needed to complete his project and provided a launching point for Idani to seek additional external funding for future research. Since finishing his initial research project, Idani has applied for, and been selected as a winner of a Fulbright Study/Research grant in Creative Writing to Sierra Leone for 2022-2023.
“The Stanley award was invaluable,” said Idani. “My research couldn’t have happened without the funding. It provided me the space to learn about Sierra Leone and the Krio people during the summer months without the financial stress of wondering how to support both myself and my research. The Stanley award allowed me to develop a robust approach for pursuing further research opportunities and was the foundation for my Fulbright application.”
After graduating in May 2022, Idani will serve as one of the Provost’s postgraduate visiting writers in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a visiting assistant professor teaching fiction courses and developing community programs related to creative writing.