Broadly, my research and teaching analyze dialectical constructions of “Blackness” and performances of Black cultural nationalisms in the Americas. I am interested in the ways in which twentieth and twenty-first century African-descended communities use literary and performance practices to build community, to argue for rights of citizenship, and to map their differential trajectories of “Blackness.” Situated in an interdisciplinary space of communication studies, global studies, performance studies, cultural studies, African American and African Diaspora studies, and Latin American and Caribbean studies; my research and teaching examine the relationship among colorism, nationalism, nationality, language, gender, sexuality, class, history, religion, and region in discourses of Black inclusion, exclusion, representation, and belonging. Festive performances of Black cultural nationalism such as various carnival traditions in the Americas as well as Juneteenth and Kwanzaa celebrations in the US, for example, function as rich intergenerational sites where groups rehearse, debate, revise, and disseminate the values and histories that undergird their cultural and political projects.
As a humanities scholar trained in Performance Studies, I use performance as both an object of study and as a methodological tool. Therefore, I study these framed, set-aside cultural events as acts of performance, and create staged dialogical performances as part of my analytical process. I also do so in order to make my work more available for local consumption, critique, and dialogue than it might otherwise be in print.
Creative and performative writing are intimately tied to my ethnographic praxis. Long before I became a scholar, I was a poet. That sensibility has served me well in the field and has given my ethnographic attention a voice animated by thick description in lyrical prose. Please click on the links below to learn more about my current research and creative projects.