Black Feminist Theory Project

From Maria Stewart's first-of-its-kind public address in Boston in 1832 and Sojourner Truth's rousing "Ain't I a Woman?" speech at the Woman's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851, to contemporary critical formulations such as Kimberlé Crenshaw's concept of "intersectionality" and Tricia Rose's work on structural racism, the thoughts, theories, and experiences of black women have been at the center of feminist activism and inquiry for the past two centuries. The year 2017 marked the fortieth anniversary of The Combahee River Collective's black feminist manifesto and Barbara Smith's groundbreaking treatise "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism," as well as the thirtieth anniversary of Hortense Spillers's equally influential essay "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book." In commemoration of these contributions and the continuing centrality of black feminist analytics, the Pembroke Center established the Black Feminist Theory Project in 2016.

Envisioned as a site of intellectual collaboration across disciplines, The Black Feminist Theory Project is anchored by rotating Distinguished Professorships/Affiliated Scholars in Residence at the Pembroke Center. Other features include annual lectures and archives contributed by notable  theorists to the Pembroke Center's Feminist Theory Archive in the name of the Black Feminist Theory Project. The aim of the project is to enhance the visibility and accessibility of black feminist discourse on campus as a resource for faculty, students, and the surrounding community, while calling attention to ongoing activism and interventions at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and public policy. 


Summer 2020 Graduate Proctor for the Black Feminist Theory Project Felicia Bishop Denaud is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in Africana Studies. Denaud, who won a 2019-20 Steinhaus/Zisson Research Grant from the Pembroke Center for her research on black women's reproductive labor in the context of empire and war-making, describes the Pembroke Center’s Feminist Theory Archive as an institutional home for “the memory work that underwrites Black feminist creation.” Denaud will work directly with scholars who give their papers to the archive in the name of the Black Feminist Theory Project.

2017-18 Affiliated Scholar in Residence
Aneeka A. Henderson, Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies at Amherst College. She is a 2017-2018 AAUW American Postdoctoral Fellow and a 2017 Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Career Enhancement Fellow. At Amherst College, she teaches a wide range of courses exploring a mosaic of African American literature, art, music, and film.

2016-17 Inaugural Distinguished Professor in Residence
Ann duCille, Emerita Professor of English at Wesleyan University and author of Technicolored: Reflections on Race in the Time if TV, Skin Trade, and The Coupling Convention: Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women's Fiction.




Kimberly Juanita Brown: Cartographies of the Ocular | Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 4 p.m.  Kimberly Juanita Brown, the Elizabeth C. Small Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and Chair of Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College, will give the research lecture “Cartographies of the Ocular.” Brown’s research engages the visual as a way to negotiate the parameters of race, gender, and belonging.

Oneka LaBennett | April 6, 2020. Oneka LaBennett is Associate Professor of Africana Studies and a Faculty Fellow with the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Her research and teaching interests include popular youth culture and Black girlhood; race, gender and consumption; urban anthropology; migration and diaspora; and the global Caribbean.



This FTA/BFTP is home to the personal and professional papers of Hortense J. Spillers, American literary critic, Black feminist scholar, and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor at Vanderbilt University. The collection includes handwritten diaries, notebooks, and draft writings; personal and professional correspondence; and conference and teaching materials, dating from 1966 to 1995.


For more information about special collections available for research, please contact the Feminist Theory Archive at [email protected].