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BLACK STUDIES MATTER

We cannot understand where humanity has been and where we are going without Black Studies.

This work has never been more important. Our research is illuminating the impact of Black lives on the past, present and future of humanity—a thread that ties together every industry and culture on the planet.

With five innovative research themes and dozens of areas of sub-speciality research, the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies is the epicenter of this vital scholarship, building a legacy for future generations and leading the field of Black Studies forward, locally and globally.

Our Research Pillars


BLACK FUTURES -
21ST CENTURY RACE
IN DIGITAL CULTURES
SLAVERY AND
INEQUALITY IN
CENTRAL KENTUCKY
RACE AND SPORTS -
BASKETBALL AND
EQUINE STUDIES
FROM APPALACHIA
TO ZIMBABWE:
GLOBAL BLACKNESS
GENDER AND
SEXUALITY

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

WHAT WE BELIEVE

  • We believe Black Studies is for everybody. The Institute supports the entire University community and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and our reach is international, for the experiences of people of African descent inform the experiences of all of humanity.

  • We believe in community, including “glocal” communities. We use our research to develop antiracist solutions to the most urgent issues of our moment. Our scholars work with the surrounding community, addressing matters relevant to local people.

  • We believe knowledge production and information are powerful change agents. The research scholars hosted long- and short-term by the Institute are nationally and internationally recognized for their intellectual and creative excellence.

  • We believe that knowledge should be interdisciplinary. Neither the STEM fields, nor Humanities, nor Social Sciences, nor the Arts, exist alone or are sufficient alone.

  • We believe in the power of democracy. To study global Blackness is to study democratic institutions and the means by which full democracy has been imagined and enacted.

Supported By You

This vital work is not possible without support from private donors, businesses, and the community.

Support Our Mission

 

OUR LEADERSHIP

Anastasia C. Curwood, PhD

Anastasia C. Curwood
Dr. Curwood, Professor of History and Director of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, joined the UK Department of History and African American & Africana Studies in 2014. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, and the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. She is the author of Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages between the Two World Wars (2010). Her most recent book is Shirley Chisholm: Champion of Black Feminist Power Politics (2023).

 
Brenna E. Pye

Brenna E. Pye
Assistant Director for Programs and Engagement for the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies. Brenna is a Public Historian and project developer whose research interests include 20th century African American women’s history and the history of Black Lexington. As an independent scholar, Brenna has produced work for the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation and the Lexington Public Library.

 

CIBS AFFILIATES

Tiffany D. Atkins

Tiffany D. Atkins
Assistant Professor, Law, J. David Rosenberg College of Law, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Race; Equity; Human Rights

 
Joseph Benitez

Joseph Benitez
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies
Research Interests: Health Economics; Applied Econometrics; Access to Care; Medically Underserved Areas/Populations; Medicaid Program Design

 
Devyn Spence Benson

Devyn Spence Benson
Associate Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Latin American and Caribbean History, esp. Cuba (19th/20th century); Africana Studies; Afro-Latinx Studies; Transnational Black Feminisms; Afro-Latin America

 
Nikki Brown

Nikki Brown
Associate Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African American History; African American women; Film and Visual Studies; Photography

 
Kayla Bush

Kayla Bush
MA student, History and Student Affiliate, Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies

 
Joseph Clark

Joseph Clark
Assistant Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Early Modern Atlantic World; Slavery and African Diaspora; Latin America and the Caribbean; Environmental History

 
Lisa Cliggett

Lisa Cliggett
Professor, Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Political Ecology; Sustainability and Environmental Change; Household Political Economy; Kinship-Family and Social Organization; Sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia, Gwembe Tonga Research Project; Qualitative Methods; Digital Data Management; Gender, Aging, and Life Course; Livelihoods; Migration and New Land Settlement; Political Economy

 
Thais Council

Thais Council
Assistant Professor, Literacy, College of Education and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Black Education; Black Reparatory Literacies; Community-Engaged/Participatory Action Research; Black Intellectual Tradition

 
Steve Davis

Steve Davis
Associate Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: South African History; Microhistory; Public History; African History; Digital Humanities; Artificial Intelligence; Machine Learning; Human Rights; Data Visualization; Virtual and Augmented Reality; New Military History

 
Brandon M. Erby

Brandon M. Erby
Assistant Professor, Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies and Faculty Affiliate, African American & African Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African American Rhetoric; Literacy Studies; Rhetorical Education; Civil Rights and Black Power Movements; Prison Writing

 
Kamahra Ewing

Kamahra Ewing
Assistant Professor, English and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African Diaspora; Film and Media Studies; Contemporary Africa and Post-colonial and Decolonial Theories; Global South Studies; Brazil and Latin America; Gender and Ethnic Identity; Ethnography; African, African American, and Caribbean Literature and Culture; Film; Multicultural American Literature

 
Crystal Felima

Crystal Felima
Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Disasters and Crises; Black Ecologies; Emergency Management and Response; Mapping and GIS; International Development; Anthropology of the State; Black Feminist Theory; Narrative Research; Embodiment and Exposure

 
Kishonna Gray

Kishonna Gray
Associate Professor, Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Digital Feminism; Video Games; Intersectionality; Black Cyber Feminism; Ethnography; Critical Discourse Analysis; Digital Media

 
Le Datta Grimes

Le Datta Grimes
Ph.D., Independent Scholar, Co-Principal Investigator: CESU Special History Study-African Americans at Mammoth Cave
Research Interests: Black Communities and Education in the Early 19th and 20th centuries, Rosenwald Schools

 
Gregory Hall

Gregory Hall
Associate Professor, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, and Faulty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: International Relations; International Security; Foreign Policy; Global South Affairs; International Political Economy; Eurasian Affairs; Research Methodology

 
Aria Halliday

Aria Halliday
Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Black Feminist Theory; Black Girlhood Studies; Black Visual Culture; 20th and 21st Century Cultural Studies

 
Regina Hamilton

Regina Hamilton
Assistant Professor, English, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African American Literature; African, African American, and Caribbean Literature and Culture; 20th Century Women’s Narrative; Gender and Race; Queer Black Studies

 
Whitney Hanley

Whitney Hanley
Assistant Professor, Special Education, College of Education, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies
Research Interests: Black girls with dis/abilities

 
Candice Hargons

Candice Hargons
Associate Professor, Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, College of Education, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Sexual Wellness; Healing Racial Trauma

 
Kayla Heard

Kayla Heard
PhD program, History and Student Affiliate, Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies

 
Frances Henderson

Frances Henderson
Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Black Feminism; Women and Social Movements; Comparative Politics; Women and Feminisms in Southern Africa

 
DaMaris B. Hill

DaMaris B. Hill
Professor, Creative Writing and English, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Environmental Studies; Gender and Women’s Studies; Digital Studies; Technology; 20th and 21st Century American Literature and Culture; African, African American, and Caribbean Literature and Culture; Creative Writing; Women’s Literature and Gender Studies; Literary Theory; Race Theory

 
Vanessa M. Holden

Vanessa M. Holden
Associate Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Gender; Slavery; Race; Resistance; Black Women; Sexuality

 
D'lorah L Hughes

D'lorah L Hughes
Professor of Law, UK Rosenberg College of Law and Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Experiential/Clinical Education; Criminal Law; Juvenile Justice

 
Ada Johnson-Kanu

Ada Johnson-Kanu
Assistant Professor, Political Science, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Comparative Politics; Political Economy; African Politics; Economic History

 
 
Hilary Jones

Hilary Jones
Associate Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African History; African Diaspora; Atlantic History; French Empire; Women; Gender and Sexuality

 
Reinette Jones

Reinette Jones
Special Collections Librarian, M.I. King Library and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African American History; Book and Library History; Gender and Women’s Studies; History of African American Librarians and Librarianship in Kentucky; African American women musicians; Lesbian Studies

 
Peter Kalliney

Peter Kalliney
Professor, English and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: 20th and 21st Century British Literature and Culture; African American and Caribbean Literature and Culture; Postcolonial and Global Literature

 
Jap-Nanak Kaur Makkar

Jap-Nanak Kaur Makkar
Assistant Professor, English, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Postcolonial and Global Literature; Method and Interpretation; Aesthetics and Politics; Histories of Colonialism and Capitalism

 
Bertin M. Louis Jr.

Bertin M. Louis Jr.
Associate Professor, Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African Studies; Cultural Anthropology; Race and Racism; African Diaspora; Religion; Human Rights; Statelessness; Migration; Haiti; Haitian Studies; Haitian Protestantism; Antiracist Movements; The Bahamas; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Anti-Haitianism

 
Marta N. Mack

Marta N. Mack
Lecturer, Sport Leadership, College of Education, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies
Research Interests: Anti-Black Sexism in Sport; Black Performance; Black Women in Sport

 
Christopher Marshburn

Christopher Marshburn
Assistant Professor, Psychology, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Racism; Social Support and Responsiveness; Discrimination; Prejudice and Stereotypes

 
Priscilla McCutcheon

Priscilla McCutcheon
Associate Professor, Geography and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Alternative Food Movements; Sustainable Agriculture; Black Geographies; Race and Racism; Spirituality and Religion

 
Shauna M. Morgan

Shauna M. Morgan
Associate Professor, English and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Creative Writing; African American Literature and Culture; Postcolonial and Global Anglophone Literature; Women’s Literature and Gender Studies; Literary Theory; African Literature and Film

 
Francis Musoni

Francis Musoni
Associate Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Modern African History; Migration; Refugees; Border Studies; Internal Economies

 
Chaquenta Neal

Chaquenta Neal
Proposal Development Officer, UK Research and Staff Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Community Leadership Development; Community Economic Development

 
Lydia Pelot-Hobbs

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
Assistant Professor, Geography and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: The Carceral State; Racial Capitalism; Social Movements and Grassroots Organizing; Prison Abolition; Black Geographies; Feminist and Queer Politics; Louisiana; Critical Urban Studies

 
Veronica Primm

Veronica Primm
MA program, History and Student Affiliate, Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies

 
Karen Rignall

Karen Rignall
Assistant Professor, Community Leadership and Development, Marin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Agri-Food systems in the Middle East and North Africa; Rural Livelihoods and Economic Development; Anthropology of Rural Life; Land Tenure and Land Rights Movements; Labor Migration

 
Ariane Ribeiro Santana

Ariane Ribeiro Santana
MA program, History and Student Affiliate, Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies

 
Gerónimo Sarmiento Cruz

Gerónimo Sarmiento Cruz
Assistant Professor, English, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Minority Literature; Poetry & Politics; Contemporary Poetry; Hemispheric Literature; Native American and Indigenous Studies; Marxism; Twentieth and 21st Century American Literature and Culture

 
Richard H. Schein

Richard H. Schein
Professor, Geography, and Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences. Acting Director, Gaines Center for the Humanities. Research interests: Cultural and Historical Geography, U.S. Urban Landscapes, Land and Property, Race, Racialization, and Racism, Methodology (Archives, Landscape as Method)

 
Elena Sesma

Elena Sesma
Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Historical Archeology; Cultural Heritage; Collective Memory; Archaeological Ethnography; Public and Community Archaeology; African Diaspora; The Bahamas; Slavery and Emancipation

 
Nisrine Slitine El Mghari

Nisrine Slitine El Mghari
Assistant Professor, French and Francophone Studies, Faculty Affiliate, African American and Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Maghrebi Literature and Culture; Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies; Literature and Culture of Muslim Spain; Urban space; Cultural Memory Studies; Gender Studies; Feminist Geography; Film and Visual Culture

 
Gerald L. Smith

Gerald L. Smith
Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: African American History; Race and Sports; Black Freedom Struggle; African American Education; Kentucky African American History

 
Melissa N. Stein

Melissa N. Stein
Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Critical Race Studies; Gender Studies; Feminist Science Studies; The Body; Racial Thought; Sexuality and Queer History; U.S. Cultural and Intellectual History; African America History; Women’s and Gender History; History of Science and Medicine

 
Amy Murrell Taylor

Amy Murrell Taylor
Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: 19th Century U.S. South; Civil War and Reconstruction; Slavery and Emancipation; Race and Gender; Public History

 
DeBraun Thomas

DeBraun Thomas
Music Host, WUKY and Staff Affiliate, Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies

 
Shemeka Thorpe

Shemeka Thorpe
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Promotion, College of Education and Faulty Affiliate, African American and African Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Sexual Health, Human Sexuality, Health Education

 
Kenneth M. Tyler

Kenneth M. Tyler
Professor, Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, College of Education and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Cultural Values of Persons of Color; Home-school Dissonance/Cultural Discontinuity; Academic Motivation; Schooling and Achievement Outcomes; Self-Efficacy; Achievement Goal Orientation; Identity Development; African American Middle Grade and High School Level Students; Identity Development in African American Male Adolescents and Adults; Invisibility Syndrome; Individual, Institutional, Cultural, and Environmental Racism; White Supremacy; White Privilege

 
MB Visoná

MB Visoná
Professor, Art History and Visual Studies, College of Fine Arts and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Art History; Visual Studies; Anthropology of Art; African Art; Cultural Studies; Global Modernism; Transnational Artists; Curatorial Studies

 
Daniel Vivian

Daniel Vivian
Associate Professor, Department of Historic Preservation, College of Design and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: 19th and 20th Century U.S. History; Public History; Historical Memory; Historic Preservation

 
Frank X Walker

Frank X Walker
Professor, English and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Poetry and Poetics; Fiction; African American Cinema; Affrilachia; Diversity in Comics and Graphic Novels; Playwriting and Black Theater; Creative Writing

 
Patrick Walker (In Memoriam)

Patrick Walker (In Memoriam)
Endowed Lecturer, Lewis Honors College and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Entrepreneurship; Free Enterprise; Conscious Capitalism from legal, managerial, and interdisciplinary perspectives

 
Keith J. Watts

Keith J. Watts
Assistant Professor, College of Social Work and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Black LGBTQ+; Mental Health; Well-being; Community; Belongingness; Identity and Intersectionality

 
JWells

JWells
Assistant Professor, Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Literacy Studies; Maternal Incarceration; Cultural Rhetorics; Women’s Rhetorics; Feminist Mothering Practices

 
Brandi White

Brandi White
Assistant Professor, College of Health Sciences and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Health Equity; Community Engagement; Diversity of the Healthcare Workforce

 
Derrick White

Derrick White
Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Intellectual History; Sports History; Political History

 
Stephanie White

Stephanie White
Associate Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education, College of Medicine, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Race and Medicine; Health Disparities; Addressing Inequities in Academic Medicine

 
Lauren Whitehurst

Lauren Whitehurst
Assistant Professor, Psychology and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Sleep and Circadian Rhythms; Autonomic Nervous System; Memory; Stress/Discrimination; Cognitive Health; Psychopharmacology; Neuroimaging; Non-Invasive Stimulation

 
Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson
Professor, English, and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Creative Writing; Nonfiction Writing; Poetry; The Short Story Cycle; Black Culture in Appalachia; Mental Illness in Literature; Women and the Black Rural Landscape

 
George C. Wright

George C. Wright
Professor, History and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Kentucky History; Black History; Global Black Freedom Struggle

 
Nazera Sadiq Wright

Nazera Sadiq Wright
Associate Professor, English and Faculty Affiliate, African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Research Interests: Colonial through 19th Century American Literature and Culture; Women’s Literature and Gender Studies; Black Girlhood Studies; African, African American, and Caribbean Literature and Culture; Black Print Culture Studies

 
Austin C. Zinkle

Austin C. Zinkle
Kentucky Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Postdoctoral Scholar, J. David Rosenberg College of Law and Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies
Research Interests: 20th Century United States History; Youth Activism; Black Freedom Struggle; United States Social Movements; United States Conservatism

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