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Greetings from the Chair

Greetings from the Department of African American Studies at Emory University!

As department chair, I have the privilege of working with an exciting constellation of scholars who are committed to academic excellence, interdisciplinary scholarship, and social justice.

Our prestigious faculty include award-winning scholars, renowned authors, leading experts, and top prize winners: Carol Anderson, a New York Times best-selling historian and voting rights activist, is the recent recipient of a multi-year grant that will allow her to lead The Imagining Democracy Lab with our esteemed political science colleague, Bernard Fraga. Valerie Babb, a pioneering scholar in African American literature, also serves as the co-principal investigator on a $1 million Andrew Mellon Foundation grant on the “Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District.” Pearl Dowe is a cutting-edge political scientist whose forthcoming work is "The Radical Imagination of Black Women: Ambition, Politics and Power" (2023). Dr. Dowe also serves as Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Chandra Ford is a leading expert on racism and its health impacts. Accolades for her research include the 2020 Wade Hampton Frost Award from the Epidemiology Section of the American Public Health Association and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Black Women Physicians. In addition to her research on the radical literary and cultural history of Black Chicago, Michelle Gordon serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students interested in majoring in African American Studies should contact her at

Bayo Holsey’s multi-award-winning book, Routes of Remembrance: Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana (2008), is a powerful exploration of culture, memory, and trauma surrounding the African slave trade. Dr. Holsey has served as the Director of the Institute of African Studies and is currently the co-chair of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar. Walter Rucker’s pathbreaking research in early Atlantic African Diaspora and African American history includes Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power (2015). Dr. Rucker is also co-chair of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, and he is the founding Director of Graduate Studies in our department. This year, we have the pleasure of welcoming our inaugural cohort of doctoral students. Prospective graduate students should contact Dr. Rucker at

Crystal Sanders is an award-winning historian whose groundbreaking book, A Chance for Change: Head Start and Mississippi’s Black Freedom Struggle (2016), won the 2017 Critics Choice Award from the American Educational Research Association and the 2017 New Scholar’s Book Award from Division F of the American Educational Research Association. Dianne Stewart is a renowned scholar of African-heritage religious cultures in the Caribbean and the Americas. Her pioneering works include Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage (2020), Obeah, Orisa, and Religious Identity in Trinidad, Volume 2, Orisa: Africana Nations and the Power of Black Sacred Imagination (2022). Dr. Stewart is also the faculty coordinator for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship.

Kimberly Wallace-Sanders is a visionary scholar in African American material and visual culture. She has been a National Endowment for the Humanities faculty participant and she curated the award-winning exhibit, “Framing Shadows: Portraits of African American Nannies with White children from the Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection.Calvin Warren’s evocative scholarship which spans Continental Philosophy, Lacanian psychoanalysis, queer theory, Black Philosophy, Afro-pessimism, and theology, is evidenced in his book, Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation (2018). Dr. Warren also serves as a faculty mentor for theoretical engagement for Emory’s Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship.

Our junior colleagues are also at the vanguard of outstanding studies on the Black experience: Alix Chapman’s forthcoming book, "Project Music: Black Gender and Sexuality in New Orleans Bounce," is an innovative study of the social significance and aesthetic form of bounce music within the socio-historical context of post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Kyrah Malika Daniels’s research centers on African-derived religions, sacred arts, religious initiation and conversion, and ritual healing traditions in the Black Atlantic. Dr. Daniels’s dynamic forthcoming book is titled, "Art of the Healing Gods: Illness, Imbalance & Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic."

Janeria Easley’s foundational research concentrates on race and wealth and explicates topics such as residential segregation, gentrification, and the built environment, as well as racial disparities in economic well-being related to employment, wealth, and homeownership. Jessica Lynn Stewart’s pivotal scholarship concentrates on race, place, and political economy. Her forthcoming book is tentatively titled "Race, Place, and Progress." Meina Yates-Richard is a gifted scholar whose forthcoming book, "Sonorous Passages: Maternal Soundings and the Black Liberation Imaginary," develops an analytical framework that places sound and its literary representations at the heart of contemporary debates concerning cultural trauma, Black feminism, auditory culture, and Black liberation in the African diaspora.

Students interested in majoring in African American Studies will work with pioneering faculty whose awards include Mellon, Ford, and Andrew Carnegie Fellowships. Our students will gain invaluable skills from thought leaders and faculty with some of the highest teaching scores in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences. Our students will also benefit from a growing network of alumni who have taken our training into every conceivable area, whether pursuing higher education, law, medicine, or careers in the arts or nonprofit sectors.

If you are looking for phenomenal scholars doing exceptional research at the intersection of art, history, religion, literature, political science, public health, economics, sociology, and anthropology as well as critical studies of race, gender, and sexuality, look no further.

We are eager to welcome you.


Kali N. Gross
National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of African American Studies
Chair, Department of African American Studies