Black: Here and Now

“Black: Here and Now” invites inquiry into myriad aspects of the experiences of Blacks in the U.S.: their enslavement in support of U. S. economic interests; the Civil War and its aftermath; the strategies to reconcile the legacy of slavery with the lofty aspirations toward freedom articulated in the country’s guiding documents—abolitionist movements, reparations, pan-Africanism; the constellation of political ideologies that framed the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; the evolution of affirmative action; and the contemporary efflorescence of political mobilization regarding police brutality, Black Lives Matter, and defund-the-police initiatives.

We also examine the place of race broadly in the imagination of politics and law, social science and natural science, and art and expression. How is race implicated in histories of imperialism and colonization writ large and in systems of slavery and genocide around the world? What have been its connections to systems of classification and category through history, and what are they today in an age when the human genome has been mapped?

Rose Lenehan (Department of Philosophy)

Rose Lenehan received her PhD in Philosophy from MIT in 2019 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in ethics in the Department of Philosophy at UCLA in 2021. Her research interests are in Marxist theories of race and racism, the relationships between race and class, and their bearing on questions of racial justice. In one project in progress, she is thinking through the historian Barbara Fields’s philosophy of race; in another, she is using socialist feminist debates about patriarchy and capitalism to theorize the functions and reproduction of racism in capitalism. At UCLA, she taught Philosophy of Race, Feminist Philosophy, and a course in political philosophy on property, class, and freedom. Her teaching and research are informed by her political work as a tenant organizer with the Los Angeles Tenants Union.

Trent Masiki (Department of English)

Concentrating in literary and cultural studies, Trent Masiki earned his Ph.D. in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2017.  He has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and an M.A. in English from Texas A&M University.  In addition to his degrees, he has a graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies and a second one in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies.  Although he has taught mostly in the U.S., he served as a Fulbright Scholar in Panama, teaching literature and expository writing in the English Department at the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí.  His research interests focus on African American and Latino American literature and culture from 1865 to the present.  He has published scholarly articles in College Language Association JournalMELUSAfrican American Review, and Short Story Journal.  He is a co-guest editor of Post-Soul Afro-Latinidades, a forthcoming special issue of The Black ScholarAfroethnic Renewal: Afro-Latino Memoirs and their African American Influences, his first book, is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.  Afroethnic Renewal aims to open the border between the canons of Latino and African American literature by centering a long, but often neglected, history of African American literary, cultural, and political influences in Latino life writing.  Black identity in the U.S., Masiki argues, has always been more transcultural, transnational, and Latino than typically imagined. 

Watufani M. Poe (Department of Black Studies; LatinX and Latin American Studies Program)

Watufani M. Poe is a scholar of race, gender, and sexuality in Brazil and the United States. He earned his B.A. from Swarthmore College in Africana Studies, his Masters in History from Brown University, and his PhD in Africana Studies from Brown University. His manuscript project entitled "Resisting Fragmentation: The Radical Possibilities of Black LGBTQ+ Activism in Brazil and the United States" is an ethnohistoric analysis of Black LGBTQ+ social and political activism in both countries to outline the ways Black LGBTQ people push for freedom across various social and political movement spaces. His work lies at the intersection of Africana Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Anthropology, and History focusing intently on questions such as the connections of the Black diaspora, Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Social Justice Movements.

Ashlie Sandoval (Department of American Studies)

Ashlie Sandoval is a performance studies theorist who researches and teaches courses in American studies, critical race theory, women of color feminisms, ethnic studies, and architectural theory. Her current book project, Designing Reconciliation: Race and the Performance of Architecture, examines how design is called upon to manage racial inequality in the twenty-first century, showing how the built environment functions as a type of staging that produces racial meaning. She came to Amherst College after completing a fellowship at Princeton University in the School of Architecture and receiving a PhD in performance studies from Northwestern University, where her research was supported by the Ford Foundation and the Black Metropolis Research Consortium.

Janice Yu (Department of Art and the History of Art)

Janice works at the intersection of visual studies, cultural studies, and psychoanalytic theory, with a focus on photographs of racial violence. Her book project, Spectacles of Intimacy: Anti-Blackness and American Photography, is an interdisciplinary study of anti-black violence in American visual culture. The project rethinks the prioritization of spectacle as the critical lens through which these photographs have often been studied and examines the unspectacular images that also comprise the visual culture of anti-black violence in the U.S. Her research and teaching advocates for a self-reflexive mode of looking that questions our positionality as spectators. She teaches courses on the convergence of race and representations of the body. Janice holds a PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. 

In Conversation with the CHI Fellows

The CHI Fellows discuss what led them to work on the scholarship of race

The CHI Fellows are researchers-in-residence hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) at Amherst College. In this video, a gesture of welcome to all the first-year students, the CHI Fellows discuss their research projects, their career trajectories, and what fascinates them about the scholarship of race.

The CHI welcomes a new Visiting Scholar

Sponsored by the New England Humanities Consortium's Faculty of Color Working Group, Filmmaker Anaiis Cisco joins the college for 2021-22

Anaiis Cisco is a filmmaker and assistant professor of moving image production in film and media studies at Smith College. She received a Masters of Fine Arts in cinema from San Francisco State University, where she was awarded a 2018 Princess Grace Award (Louis D. Srybnik Film Award) for her graduate thesis film, <i>Drip Like Coffee.</i> Cisco teaches digital video production courses as she develops media that explores the emotional and internal journeys of Black characters, confronting intimate moments of violence and trauma in diverse story worlds. Her research fellowship at Amherst is part of a new program administered by the New England Humanities Consortium's Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG) and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.