Graduate Students

Fall 2019 Entering Ph.D. Students

Justin A. Lang is from Nashville, TN where he earned his B.S. in Psychology and Sociology from Belmont University. His research interests engage with anarchist thought and strategy within Black politics to explore and imagine alternative forms of organization beyond the nation-state. He is also interested in Black critical theory, environmental thought, and speculative fiction. Justin is a recipient of the Brown University Diversity Fellowship.

Alexandria Miller earned her B.A. with distinction in African & African American Studies and History from Duke University, where she served on the Student Project Team of the SNCC Digital Gateway Project. Her research interests include social movements, Caribbean performance art and music, and Afro-Jamaican women’s protest. Her current research explores the history of Jamaican reggae and contemporary music culture and activism. Alexandria is the US Editor of BASHY Magazine, a quarterly digital and print publication on Jamaica and its diaspora. She was selected as one of the 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders by the Institute of Caribbean Studies in 2018. Before graduate school, Alexandria served as a College Advisor with the Duke College Advising Corps. and as a Research Associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.

Wilton Schereka is a graduate of the University of the Western Cape, the alma mater of his parents who were both the first in their families to attend university. He obtained a Master of Arts in History, an Honors degree in English literature, a certificate in English and History education, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and History. A Cape Town native, he has been involved in music in various roles, from spending 5 years as a drummer of a local band, Fingers In The Sky, as a DJ with the moniker Big Gay Rainbow, and as music scout for a local label, capeclub. His academic interests include black radical philosophy, the movement of philosophies between Africa's diasporas and the continent, aurality, sound, music, and visions of the postcolonial moment. He is currently interested in dub music and Caribbean philosophy and the possibilities made available by reading the two in relation.
Malcolm Thompson holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the George Washington University, and an M.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Africana Studies from the Graduate Center, CUNY. His research considers the 1917 Houston rebellion within the broader context of Black radicalism at the end of the First World War. His current work continues to focus on the intersection of Black social movements and political radicalism in the early twentieth century. His other interests include Black masculinity, anti-colonialism and Black existential thought.

Fall 2018 Entering Ph.D. Students

Melaine Ferdinand-King holds a B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College, where she concentrated in Women’s Studies and African Diaspora & the World. Her research interests include political theory and action, Black feminist theory, and visual and performance art. She is currently exploring the role the arts play in creating new political visions and histories for marginalized groups and the impact race, gender, and sexual identity have on the operation of power and resistance. In her leisure, she delights in poetry, music, and travel. 

Eric T. Jones is a first-generation college graduate from Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Africana Studies. He was also a member of Pitt’s Track and Field team, where he was a standout triple jumper. Following Pitt, he earned an M.A. in Religious Studies from Howard University School of Divinity, concentrating on ethics and social justice. From an early age, Eric observed and explored the socioeconomic disparities that existed in marginalized communities. His childhood observations came full circle while researching the prevailing implications of the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee as a Public Health Ethics Fellow at the National Center for Bioethics in Research & Health Care. Consequently, Eric’s experience at Tuskegee led him to pursue his current research interests, which include the intersection of race, spirituality, and health disparities.

Nasir Marumo is a “rap-ademic” from New Orleans who received bachelor's and master's degrees in Afro-American Studies before coming to Brown, where he is a Presidential Fellow. Nasir is a cultural theorist who is especially invested in the oppositional potential of black popular culture(s) and his doctoral research investigates radical possibilities in the black cultural arena in the neoliberal moment. Nasir is producer and host of The Rap Scholars Podcast, where he uses “podcast as pedagogy” to curate dialogue with a range of guests who use hip hop music to think critically about our social world.


Social Media: @therapscholars

Social Media: @therapscholars

Nasir Marumo 2021Nasir Marumo 2021

Fall 2017 Entering Ph.D. Students

N’Kosi Oates earned his B.A. with distinction in Political Science and Communication from the University of Delaware. He also holds a M.A. in Religion from Yale University Divinity School, which he combined with a concentration in African American Studies. Working within twentieth-century U.S. history, his research engages U.S. black social movements, black radicalism, and its intersections with History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies.

Britt Threatt graduated from Rhodes College with BAs in English literature and theatre, alongwith a minor in Africana Studies. Her research interests currently center Black feminist artistsand the material effects of their work in this world and, more enticingly, in a future one. Her work takes seriously concepts like “worldmaking” and interrogates its possibilities and its limits beyond romance and metaphor to craft something yet nonexistent: a future in which Black women get to Be differently. Britt is happiest creating her own art that takes up these questions whether poetry, theatre, or devised performance.
Melanie White earned her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania where she was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. She holds an M.A in African and African Diaspora Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and was awarded a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in 2016. Her research interests include Black social movements in Central America and the Caribbean, Afro-Nicaraguan women's cultural politics, and Black diasporic feminisms. Currently, her research considers the political implications of Afro-Nicaraguan women's visual art in the context of the struggle for autonomy on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast.

Fall 2016 Entering Ph.D. Students

Felicia Bishop Denaud earned her B.A. cum laude from Columbia University where she pursued Sociology and African American Studies with a focus in English as a John Kluge Scholar. Her research explores the relationship between political authority, knowledge production, and resistance/rebellion/revolution in the context of the modern African diaspora. Her research attends to the spiritual and cultural dimensions of black political knowledge to both capture the social dynamics of political change and interrogate disciplinary formations. Felicia draws extensively from black intellectual and literary history, feminist theories, political philosophy, postcolonialism, and historiography. Outside the classroom, Felicia is an aspiring poet and avid cyclist. 
Kristen J. Maye graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Afro-American Studies and History. Her research engages political theory with questions at the intersection of New World slavery, neoliberal capitalism and gender. She is interested in probing the machinations of anti-Blackness in progressive civil society with a particular focus on the university. She investigates technologies of power that seek to produce blackness as nonhuman and violable, thus impacting possibilities for conceiving and enacting black freedom projects. Kristen spent the time between her undergraduate studies and her return to graduate school working in criminal justice and drug policy reform in New York City. In her spare time she enjoys biking and beer.

Fall 2015 Entering Ph.D. Students

Warren Harding earned his B.A. with Honors in Africana Studies and History from Oberlin College where he became a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Through the Open Graduate Education Program at Brown, he has also earned his A.M. in Comparative Literature. He is currently researching and writing for his dissertation, which explores how Black Caribbean migrant women construct notions of belonging between the African and Caribbean diasporas through their creative expression, curatorial, and publishing practices. Warren’s study combines the fields of Black Feminist Literary Criticism, Black Caribbean Migration Studies, and Caribbean Women’s Writing and Criticism. More broadly, he is interested in literary and cultural movements throughout the African diaspora. His review of The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present: Operation Urgent Memory (2014) by Dr. Shalini Puri, entitled “The Silences, too, Deserve a Place,” was published in SX Salon. He has received support from the Social Science Research Council and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Watufani M. Poe earned his B.A. from Swarthmore College in Africana Studies with a minor in Latin American Studies in 2013, an A.M. in Africana Studies and an A.M. in History funded through the Open Graduate Fellowship at Brown University in 2018. He was recently awarded the Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC) International Dissertation Research Fellowship as well as the William J. Fulbright Student Fellowship for his 2018-2019 research in Brazil. His dissertation project tentatively titled "Finding Space For the Bicha Preta: Black LGBTQ Activism in the United States and Brazil" looks at Black queer and trans social and political activism in both countries and attempts to understand the ways Black LGBTQ people push for freedom across various movement spaces. 

D’Ondre Swails earned his BA in philosophy and sociology at Morhouse College and his AM in Africana Studies at Brown University. His research interests are in African-American cultural politics and history; Black radical thought; and Black expressive cultures. He is currently working on his dissertation project, which is a study of criminalization and the political function of the “gangsta” figure. 

Fall 2014 Entering Ph.D. Students

Katsí Yarí Rodríguez Velásquez earned a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and a M.A. in Cultural Action and Management from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Her research interests include decolonial thought, global south epistemolgies, black feminism, Third World feminism, African diaspora, national narratives and race discourses of the Caribbean, performance art and women and gender studies.

Ph.D. in Africana Studies Alumni

Bedour Alagraa is an Assistant Professor of Black Political and Social Theory in the department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her PhD in Africana Studies in 2019. She also holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, a Masters in Race, Ethnicity, and Post-Colonial Studies from the London School of Economics, and was an Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow during her time at Brown. Bedour's dissertation examined present-day legacies of the intellectual tradition of catastrophism and Black life post-Middle passage as a counternarrative/creative outside of traditional theorizations of catastrophe. More specifically, her dissertation explored modern-day ecological catastrophes as theatres for the reproduction of this intellectual tradition of catastrophism and equally Black political horizons and possibilities in opposition to and apart from this theoretical inheritance. More broadly, she is interested in Black Political Thought, especially Caribbean political thought, African anti-colonial thought (1920s-1980s,) and Black Marxism(s). Bedour has been published in several journals, including Critical Ethnic Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, The CLR James Journal of Caribbean Philosophy, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society.
Shamara Wyllie Alhassan Shamara Wyllie Alhassan is Assistant Professor of the Black Experience in the Americasin the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. She completed her PhD in Africana Studies at Brown University in May 2019. She earned an M.A. in Africana Studies at Brown University, an M.S. Ed. in Childhood Education from City University of New York-Hunter College, and a B.A. in Africana Studies and Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Dr. Alhassan specializes in Rastafari Studies, Black women’s intellectual history, Africana philosophy and religion, Black radical epistemologies and documentary film, with a current research focus on how Rastafari women use their livity to build Pan-African community and combat gendered anti-Black racism and religious discrimination in Jamaica, Ghana, and Ethiopia. Her dissertation, “Rastafari Women’s Intellectual History and Activism in the Pan-African World,” received the Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize for an outstanding dissertation in the area of feminist studies from the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. She is a finalist for the 2019 National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois First Book Prize. Among her research awards are the African and African Diaspora Studies Dissertation Fellowship at Boston College (2018-2019), the Brown in the World/World at Brown Travel Grant from the Cogut Institute of the Humanities (2017), and the Global Mobility Grant from the Brown Graduate School (2016). She directed the documentary films, Awodie: Re-Membering the Womb (2009) and Balance: A Grounding With My Sisters (2019). Her written work appeared in Callaloo and the National Political Science Review.
Lydia Kelow-Bennett is an Assistant Professor of AfroAmerican & African Studies at the University of Michigan. She completed her PhD in Africana Studies at Brown University in 2018. Lydia holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Puget Sound and a Masters in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. Her research interests include Black women’s intellectual history, Black cultural studies, and Black geographies. Lydia’s dissertation project constructs radical genealogies of Black feminism and womanism, in order to address neoliberal discourses in academic and popular Black feminisms. Prior to graduate school, Lydia worked in public secondary education, higher education administration and student affairs for several years, specializing in advocacy and anti-oppression work. She currently serves on the Governing Council of the National Women’s Studies Association, where she is also a member of the Women of Color Leadership Project Advisory Board and is completing her final year as Co-Chair of the Women of Color Caucus.
Amanda T. Boston is a Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University and an assistant professor and faculty fellow at NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management. She completed her Ph.D. in Africana Studies at Brown in 2018. Boston's research, writing, and teaching focus on twentieth-century African American urban history, politics, and popular culture, with an emphasis on the politics and culture of race in the post-civil rights era. Her current projects explore gentrification’s racial operations in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and their role in the making and unmaking of the borough’s black communities. Boston has received research funding and support from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among other sources. Prior to earning her Ph.D. and M.A. in Africana Studies from Brown, she earned an M.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Political Science and African & African American Studies from Duke University. Boston is a New Alumni Trustee of Brown and sits on the alumni council of the New York City-based Prep for Prep program, which provides students of color with life-changing educational and leadership opportunities. 
Michael Sawyer Michael Sawyer is Assistant Professor of Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies and the Department of English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was recently appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor of English and the Fine Arts at the United States Air Force Academy and is the Founder and Director of the Africana Intellectual Project at Colorado College. His 2018 monograph, An Africana Philosophy of Temporality: Homo Liminalis has been nominated for the American Philosophical Association’s 2019 Book Prize as well as the MLA’s First Book Prize. His second monograph, Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X will be published in 2020. Michael holds a B.S from the United States Naval Academy, master’s degrees in International Security Policy from the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations and Comparative Literature from Brown University and completed his PhD in Africana Studies in 2015.
Hadiya Sewer completed her PhD in Africana Studies at Brown University in 2018. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College where she was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Her research interests include African diaspora studies, race and identity, and sociology of law.
Nicosia Shakes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at The College of Wooster. She completed her PhD in Africana Studies at Brown University in May 2017, with specialization in gender and sexuality studies, literary and performance cultures and political thought.  Her book, Gender, Race and Performance Space: Theatre and Women's Activism in Jamaican and South African Theatre is the winner of the 2017 National Women's Studies Association/University of Illinois Press (UIP) First Book Prize and under contract with UIP. It is based on her  dissertation, “Africana Woman’s Theatre as Activism: A Study of Sistren Theatre Collective, Jamaica and The Mothertongue Project, South Africa” which received the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award and Marie J. Langlois Prize for an Outstanding Dissertation in the area of Feminist Studies from the Pembroke Center at Brown in 2017. Among her research awards are, the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) Grassroots Development Dissertation Research Fellowship (2014-2015), the Global Graduates Fellowship from the Cogut Center for the Humanities (2015) and the Steinhaus/Zisson Research Grant (2015) from the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. She has published nine book chapters and peer reviewed essays, as well as book reviews. Her theatre work includes her full-length play, Afiba and Her Daughters (2016) in addition to numerous other performances.