2023-24 Dissertation Scholars
Brittany L. Marshall is a PhD candidate in mathematics education at Rutgers University's Graduate School of Education. Her research interests include the effects of Western imperialism and antiblackness in mathematics classrooms, K-12 mathematics teaching and learning, and math identity development, particularly among Black girls. She is also an outside graduate researcher at the PRISM Lab at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Before Rutgers, Brittany taught middle and high school mathematics in Chicago for almost a decade. Prior to education, she practiced architecture in both Chicago and DC. Brittany holds a Master of Architecture degree from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Brittany is a Chicago native and loves to debate the best city skylines and pizza. She is also a world traveler and unwinds by watching Chopped on the Food Network. She is thrilled to be spending a year learning from amazing scholars in UCSB's Black Studies Department
2022-23 Dissertation Scholars
Benjamin L. Jones (he/him) researches the speculative analysis and praxis of oppressed people. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Northwestern University’s Department of Art History, with an interdisciplinary cluster certificate in Critical Theory. His art-historical interests include contemporary intersections of art and power, futurism, and Black radical visual culture and performance. Funded by the Social Science Research Council and the Mellon foundation, his work engages critical ethnic studies, critical pedagogical practices, and feminist mobilizations of onto-epistemology and quantum mechanics. A practicing artist, Jones graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a B.A. in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art (highest honors). He is currently working on two projects: What We Fin’na Do: Preface to a 5,000 Year Almanac, and What We Cain't Do: The Pedagogy of the Black Radical Aesthetic Tradition. In 2022 he was a facilitator for the Black Art Movement School Modality, (Iteration 2, East Coast), alongside co-facilitators: Romi Crawford, Theaster Gates, Sampada Aranke, Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, Kamau Patton, Michael Simanga.
Fatima Siwaju is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University, with a graduate certificate in African American Studies. Her research and teaching interests center on Islam in the Americas, race and religion in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Afro-American intellectual traditions. Her dissertation, which is based on fieldwork conducted in the Colombian cities of Buenaventura and Cali, explores the intersections of race, religion, and citizenship as they pertain to the historical trajectories, contemporary socialities, and religious practices of Black Shi’i Muslims.
Fatima holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish and a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. She also received a Master of Arts in Religion from Syracuse University.
2021-22 Dissertation Scholars
2020-2021 Dissertation Scholars
Ana Rita Alves
Ana Rita Alves holds a degree in Anthropology and a master’s on Migrations, Inter-ethnicities and Transnationalism from the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the New University of Lisbon that she concluded with the thesis "Understanding Residential Segregation: The Special Re-housing Program and Anti-racism" (2013). She is a PhD student on Human Rights in Contemporary Societies at the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, where she is concluding thesis project "Periphery as a Symptom in Contemporary Portugal".
She was a researcher in the projects "RAP - 'Race' and Africa in Portugal: a study on history textbooks" (2010-2011), "Atlantic Crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging" (2014-2015), "ExPERts - Making Sense of Planning Expertise: Housing Policy and the Role of Experts in the Special Rehousing Program (PER)" and "COMBAT - Combating racism in Portugal: an analysis of public policies and anti-discrimination law" (2016-2020). She is currently enrolled in the project "AFRO-PORT - Afro-descendance in Portugal: Sociability, Representations and Sociopolitical and Cultural Dynamics. A Study in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area" (2020-2021) and she is member of the advisory board of "(DE)OTHERING - Deconstructing Risk and Otherness: hegemonic scripts and counter-narratives on migrants/refugees and 'internal Others' in Portuguese and European mediascapes" (2020-2021).
She is one of the founding members of "CHÃO - Atelier of Urban Anthropology", which develops collaborative work with the association and the inhabitants of the self-produced Neighborhood of Jamaika, in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. In the past decade, she has been engaged in activism, producing critical academic knowledge on institutional racism and urban segregation and working with several grassroots movements of peripheral self-produced and rehousing neighborhoods, where the impact of systemic violence towards Black and ROMA populations, namely evictions and police brutality, is tremendous.
Amanda Joyce Hall
Amanda Joyce Hall is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Departments of African American Studies and History at Yale University. Her dissertation is a transnational history that examines the international opposition to South African apartheid within the Black diaspora in the 1970s and 1980s. She chronicles the efforts of South African liberators and international grassroots activists to build a global anti-racist movement that challenged color lines domestically and internationally. A U.S. Fulbright and Ford Fellow, she has conducted extensive cross-border research that draws on archives and oral histories from four continents. Amanda is a former Visiting Scholar of the History Workshop at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Amanda is currently a host of the New Books in African American Studies podcast channel on the New Books Network. She also remains committed to engaging broader audiences and expanding historical analysis through her initiatives in the Digital Humanities. Amanda teaches histories of the Black Freedom Movement, Africa and the African diaspora, 20th century U.S. cultural and political history, and international history.
2019-2020 Dissertation Scholar
Marques A. Vestal is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UCLA, where he also earned his master’s degree in Afro-American Studies. He is currently the Team Leader of the Archives Division for Million Dollar Hoods, a community driven, multidisciplinary, research collaboration in the Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA committed to producing a “fully-loaded cost accounting” of mass incarceration in Los Angeles and California. He is also a researcher for the Luskin Center for History and Policy and a former Eugene Cota Robles Graduate Fellow.
In his dissertation, “Paying Rent for Promised Land,” he uncovers untold histories of property conflict in Black Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Watts Rebellion (1929-1965), revealing the contentious political and cultural economies of property that, in part, defined the terms of Black housing security within the context of segregation. Over these three and half decades, Black property—as rented and owned housing—was under threat. The Great Depression (1929-1940), World War II and reconversion (1941-1950), postwar urban renewal (1950-1965), and aggressive pre-Watts Rebellion policing (1955-1965) sets the context for four roughly chronological chapters, each serving as a case study for what have been identified as central conflicts of property and racial capitalism in each period. The study’s central question is simple: how have Black Angelenos confronted, in culture and practice, the changing political and cultural economies of property that undergirded the very foundations of Los Angeles as a global city on the make? This question takes us to unexplored but critical conditions of urban life and home. Under the racial capitalism of housing in Los Angeles, the Black home was not only segregated, but necessarily indebted, rented, sold, condemned, and criminalized. What entitlements in home did Black Angelenos conjure up and keep warm when their so divined promised land was actual property, an allotment of capital scribed into the land, where race determined both its value and rights?
2018- 2019 Dissertation Scholars
Olga Blomgren’s research encompasses language hierarchies, master narratives, pedagogy, and access to literary studies in higher education. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She has taught literature and composition in California, where she participated in grant-funded retention studies in Hispanic Serving Institutions. These experiences motivated her to enter doctoral study.
Working to articulate the ways certain texts resist placement into existing academic disciplines, Olga's current research in the Caribbean engages literary and translation studies, and archipelagic and spatial studies to examine of how/where "new" world literatures might emerge. She is preparing a dissertation, Reading Dangerously: Mobilities, Cannibalizing Language, and Archipelagic Thinking in Texts by Rosario Ferré and Edwidge Danticat, accentuating the relations between mobility and belonging, language and power, and the use of dominant language to directly counter state narratives. Researching the movement of language in the Caribbean, Olga's dissertation addresses reverberations of post/mono-lingualism and globalization, advancing the interpretative possibilities opened by Édouard Glissant's “archipelagic thinking.”
Raphaëlle Rabanes is a Ph.D. Candidate in the joint Medical Anthropology Program at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. She first trained in psychology and psychoanalytic research at the University of Paris Diderot, and practiced as a clinical psychologist in France. Her work now weaves together medical anthropology, black studies, postcolonial studies, and disability studies.
2017- 2018 Dissertation Scholars
Owen James Hyman
Owen James Hyman is a PhD candidate in the Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History Department at Mississippi State University. His dissertation, “The Cut and the Color Line: An Environmental History of Jim Crow in the Deep South’s Forests, 1865-1965,” explores the material foundations of the American South’s culture of white supremacy as well as the environmental resources African Americans mobilized to accumulate capital and build communities after the Civil War and Emancipation. By analyzing the forests and forest industries of the Deep South, particularly those in Louisiana and Mississippi, the project shows how forms of racial violence, economic exclusion, and black resistance changed in relation to a changing landscape.
The study further examines the “cut-over color lines” that have been obscured by a century of timber extraction in the region, especially the agricultural potential African Americans found in the forests and swamps of the Deep South as well as the legal means timber companies used to strip black landowners of their holdings. Through a close reading of oral histories, timber cutting contracts, lawsuits, and soil surveys, this study will demonstrate that white supremacy hastened the collapse of the South’s old-growth forests while reforestation perpetuated white supremacy. In turn, it will highlight the ways in which black voices provide an important counter-narrative to understandings of the southern environment perpetuated by the forest industries.
Vineeta Singh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her research and teaching interests center on social movement history, black feminist theory and methods, and critical university studies.
Her dissertation examines how higher education intervenes in academic and popular common senses about the place of black subjects in the U.S. nation-state. This critical university studies project is centered on black history, and uses black studies, cultural studies, critical gender studies, and Marxist geography theory and methods to tell a relational, intersectional history of American higher education. Through a series of case studies examining normal schools, land-grant colleges, vocational institutes, community colleges, and leadership training programs, this project brings to light the dialectic relationship between black political imaginaries and the racial projects embedded in twentieth century higher education innovations.
2016-2017 Dissertation Scholars
SA Smythe is a finishing doctoral candidate in History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz with designated emphases in Literature and Feminist Studies. Their dissertation, L’Italia Meticcia: Being and Belonging in the Black Mediterranean, is a ?transdisciplinary project engaging with Italian literary studies, post?colonial ?studies, Black British ?and Caribbean ?cultural studies, queer studies, and critical human geography. This work examines the legal, literary, and historiographical aporias in the narration of italianità in the Black Mediterranean from the Risorgimento to the present by meditating on canonicity and citizenship in the wake of Europe’s self-initiated “crises” of migration and the attendant levels of dispossession. SA is currently president of the Queer Studies Caucus of the American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS), publishing editor of THEM – Trans Literary Journal, former contributing curator/writer at okayafrica and Reviews Editor for Critical Contemporary Culture Journal at the London School of Economics. SA is also a poet and an activist who performs and organises in queer trans Black and abolitionist poetry collectives in the Bay Area, London, and Berlin.