A Message from the Chair

Submitted by Ellen Palms on

 Black Studies in AES for Black History Month

In observance and recognition of Black History month, I welcome you to engage with AES’s rich and growing collection of knowledge resources in Black studies spearheaded by our faculty members who, themselves, are scholars in Black studies and Black studies-intersecting fields. 

Prof. Jang Wook Huh is a comparative and ethnic literature scholar who writes and teaches on cross-cultural exchanges in transpacific circuits.  His forthcoming book explores the literary and cultural intersections between Black liberation struggles in the US and anticolonial movements in Korea.  His other essays that represent these intersections include:

Prof. La TaSha Levy is a Black studies scholar whose research and teaching interests include post-WWII African American politics, Black intellectual history, and Black women's studies.  Her upcoming book, Race Matters in the GOP, traces the dramatic, ideological shift in Black Republican politics during the height and decline of the modern civil rights movement.  A good sample of her work includes:

Prof. LaShawnDa Pittman is a sociologist who studies race, gender, and family, with particular attention to grandparent caregiving and Black grandmothers.  In her forthcoming book, Grandmothering While Black: A Twenty-First Century Story of Love, Coercion, and Survival, she focuses on the ways in which Black grandmothers raising their grandchildren experience coerced mothering across a range of kinship caregiving arrangements and the strategies they devise to manage their legal marginalization vis-à-vis parents and the state, and to mitigate the financial, emotional, and social costs of parenting a second and third generation.  Her other writings include:

Prof. Sonnet Retman writes and teaches courses about African American literature, cinema, popular music studies and new media.  Her first book, Real Folks: Race and Genre in the Great Depression (Duke 2011), investigates how hybrid forms of documentary and satire theorized and challenged populist conceptions of a racialized folk in the 1930s.  She is currently working on a book about black popular music, recording technology, migration and memory in the early 20th Century.  Most recently, her journal article, “Memphis Minnie’s ‘Scientific Sound’: Afro-Sonic Modernity and the Jukebox Era of the Blues," won the prestigious Constance M. Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association for the best paper published in 2020 in American Quarterly. A selection of her writing includes:

  • “Voice on Record: The New Negro Movement’s Recording Imaginary.” African American Literature in Transition, 1920-30. Edited by Miriam Thaggert. African American Literature: in Transition, 1750-2015.  Series edited by Joycelyn Moody. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • “Memphis Minnie’s ‘Scientific Sound’: Afro-Sonic Modernity and the Juke Box Era of the Blues.” American Quarterly, 72.1 (March 2020): 75-102. https://theasa.net/sites/default/files/72.1_March_2020_Retman_S.pdf
  • “ ‘Return of the Native’: Sterling Brown’s A Negro Looks at the Southand the Work of Signifying Ethnography.  American Literature,  86, No. 1 (March 2014): 87-115.
  • What Was African American Literature?: Commentary” PMLA  128, No. 2 (March 2013).
  • “Langston Hughes’s ‘Rejuvenation Through Joy’: Passing, Racial Performance and the Marketplace.” African American Review,  45, No. 4 (Winter 2012): 593-602. 
  • Real Folks: Race and Genre in the Great Depression(Duke University Press, 2011)  https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/48498
  • Black No More: George Schuyler and Racial Capitalism.” Comparative Racialization, edited by Patricia Yaeger.  Special issue of PMLA  123, No. 5,(October 2008): 1448-1464. 

Prof. Oliver Rollins, our newest faculty member, is a qualitative sociologist who works on issues of race/racism in and through science and technology. Specifically, his research explores how racial identity, racialized discourses, and systemic practices of social difference influence, engage with, and are affected by, the making and use of neuroscientific technologies and knowledges. His book, Conviction: The Making and Unmaking of The Violent Brain (Stanford University Press, 2021), traces the development and use of neuroimaging research on anti-social behaviors and crime, with special attention to the limits of this controversial brain model when dealing with aspects of social difference, power, and inequality.  A good sample of his writing include:

  • Anelis Kaiser Trujillo, Emily Ngubia Kessé, and Oliver Rollins. Forthcoming. “The Significance of Race and Racism in Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience” Cortex: A Journal devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior
  • Rollins, Oliver. 2021. “Towards an antiracist (neuro)science.” Nature: Human Behaviour, 5:540-541. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01075-y
  • Roberts, Dorothy and Oliver Rollins. 2020. “Why Sociology Matters to Race and Biosocial Science.” Annual Review of Sociology 46:195-214.
  • Larregue, Julien and Oliver Rollins. 2019. “Biosocial Criminology and The Mismeasure of Race.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 42(12):1990-2007.

Prof. Vincent Schleitwiler is another AES scholar whose work engages with Black studies alongside other ethnic and racial groups.  His first book, Strange Fruit of the Black Pacific: Imperialism's Racial Justice and Its Fugitives, explores the intersecting migrations of Japanese Americans, Filipinos, and African Americans across US imperial domains, from the 1890s to the 1940s. His scholarship has appeared in African American Review, Amerasia Journal, Global Performance Studies, Film QuarterlyComparative Literature, and others. Current research projects include a second monograph, “From Afro-Asia to Outer Space: Racial Difference Beyond White Supremacy,” and coediting a recovered phototext manuscript on post-WWII Japanese American Chicago by the photojournalist Vince Tajiri.  A selection of his writings and interviews include:

Prof. Jacqueline Waita teaches basic, intermediate, and intensive Swahili, and is active in local affairs related to African American and African diasporic communities.

We pay tribute to the key founders of our interdiscipline and our department, foremost of them Black students and their allies at San Francisco State College and, later, members of the Black Student Union with their allies at the University of Washington.  We are also beneficiaries of the legacies of our emeriti faculty, alumni, and community members who were involved in Black studies work with us – Prof. John Walter, Prof. Johnnella Butler, Prof. Syed Mohammed Maulana, Larry Gossett, Prof. Robert Crutchfield, Prof. Quintard Taylor, Prof. James Banks, Prof. Cherry McGee Banks, Emile Petrie, Myron Apilado, Marguerite Cook, to name just a few.

We celebrate and recognize our alliances with other UW faculty in Black studies: Profs. Ileana Rodriguez-Silva, Stephanie Smallwood, Habiba Ibrahim, Chandan Reddy, Shirley Yee, Alexes Harris, Alys Weinbaum, Ralina Joseph, Rachel Chapman, Clarence Spigner, Laura Chrisman, Geneva Gay, Ed Taylor, Joy Williamson-Lott, William H. George, and many more colleagues.

We are proud of and committed to working alongside Black-identified organizations within and beyond our campus, among them the Black Faculty Collective, Black Student Union, Northwest African American Museum, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, UW Abolition Institute, Mayor’s Council on African American Elders, Sisterhood, and Black Agenda Report.

And most definitely, we are invigorated by the continuing growth of our department, especially in our faculty roster, curriculum, and engagement with Black studies and our diverse communities here and elsewhere. This excitement is indeed fueled by our hope that our quest for social justice, true to the spirit and legacies of Black history, continues to be meaningfully realized.  Have a great Black history month!

Rick Bonus