Professionally I am anchored by a personal commitment to doing work with implications for the social and educational benefit of African American and other minority children. This commitment has lead me to pursue the kind of basic research and scholarship that helps to inform discussion of the issues concerning these children. My scholarly interests are also guided by a contextualist sensibility about the nature of cognitive development and are deeply influenced by extensions of Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (1978) by Michael Cole (1996), Barbara Rogoff (1995), A. Wade Boykin (1986), and others. I am especially interested in his idea that all learning (cognitive development) takes place during social interactions and that as a consequence, what develops necessarily reflects the social and cultural milieu in which those interactions occur.
My own scholarship builds on those ideas with a focus on aspects of African American culture, especially as they are distinguished from the mainstream of US culture. I have recently expanded the scope of my interests to include other groups of the African Diaspora as well.
From these foundations, our work in the Cultural Deep Structure lab pursues three main and interrelated questions. First I have focused on the question of whether peoples’ culture based orientations can be relied upon to predict their attitudes and behavior. The second major question concerns process. It is one thing to document that people’s cultural orientations predict attitudes and behavior and another to ascertain why and how people’s culture based orientations may influence them toward one outcome or another. Our third major line of inquiry pursues what I have termed the continuity thesis. In that work I contend that there will be important similarities in the expression of a given cultural theme within global diasporas and that, even when the overarching concept is of similar importance to each, there will also be important differences in the expression of that theme between peoples of different Diasporas.