Associate Professor and Director of Institute of African American Research


Phone: (919) 962-2438

Fax: (919) 962-1613

Office: 204C Alumni Bldg.

Area of Interest:

My research interests have spanned a variety of areas including: critical development studies, globalization, place, social movements, gender, and race. Much of my work has been in rural settings and looks at communities and social groups undergoing or navigating a significant transition, especially an economic one. Geographically, my work has been concentrated in the Caribbean and the United States.


Ph.D., University of Florida, Anthropology

Research & Activities:

Present Research:

I am currently completing a book manuscript exploring what it means to be a black town in the twenty-first century.  My focus is on Oklahoma communities known as All Black Towns, once considered icons of black American economic and social success. My manuscript examines the interest that swarms around these communities in the present period, despite the common assumption that they are now impoverished “ghost towns” whose significance has long passed. I explore the diverse and extensive ways that people engage with the communities, especially looking at the active and complex regard for black towns as historically remarkable and contemporarily modern, American, and racially-distinct spaces.

Past Research:

My first major study looked at Caribbean banana farmers who were navigating a significant shift in trade policy that threatened their access to an overseas market. I wanted to know how they were responding to a major impending change. Framed around work on globalization, place and social movements, my book, Free Trade and Freedom: Neoliberalism, Place and Nation in the Caribbean, looks at how farmers’ engaged critically with neoliberal policies that were visibly manifest at the state level. The book demonstrates that, collective action and place-based narratives drawing on themes relevant to the plantation history in banana farming communities’, were especially important in how farmers’ challenged policies and state practices negatively impacting their livelihood.

With anthropologist Deborah A. Thomas (University of Pennsylvania), I also led a six-year project interrogating the development of Caribbean Studies as an intellectual and political project. To do this work we organized and convened a series of events (workshops, roundtables, symposia, conference panels and interviews) involving a range of interdisciplinary and international scholars who examined trajectories, influences and synergies within this particular area studies field. Based on these discussions, we co-authored articles (“Rethinking Global and Area Studies: Insights from Caribbeanist Anthropology”, “Caribbean Studies, Anthropology, and U.S. Academic Realignments”) and edited a special journal issue, Caribbeanist Anthropology at the Crossroads: Revisiting Themes, Revising Concepts.

Courses Taught:
Ethnography and Black Communities, Anthropology of the Caribbean, Afro-Caribbeans and the U.S., Writing and Publishing in Anthropology, Public Anthropology, Contemporary African American Issues, Globalization and Resistance, Black Feminist Theory

Selected Publications:

2009  “Situating Whites and Whiteness in the Work of Mozell C. Hill.” Transforming Anthropology.  17(1):34-38.

2008  “Critical Explorations of Gender and the Caribbean: Taking it into the Twenty-first Century,” (co-authored with Tanya L. Shields) Identities:  Global Studies in Power and Culture. 15(6): 687-702.

2008  “Caribbean Studies, Anthropology, and U.S. Academic Realignments.” (co-authored with Deborah Thomas)  Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society  10(2): 123-137.

2007  Caribbeanist Anthropologies at the Crossroads:  Revisiting Themes, Revising Concepts.  Special journal issue co-edited wth Deborah Thomas.  Identities: Global Studies in Power and Culture.  vol .14. no. 1/2.

2007  “Situating Sugar Strikes: Contestations of Race and Politics in Decolonizing St. Lucia.”  Identities: Global Studies in Power and Culture 14 (1/2):  39-62.

2006  Free Trade and Freedom:  Neoliberalism, Place, and Nation in the Caribbean.  University of Michigan Press.

2005  “Globalisation, the Nation, and Labour Struggles in St. Lucia’s Banana Industry.”  In: Revisiting Caribbean Labour Studies:  Essays in Honour of O. Nigel Bolland.  Constance Sutton, editor, pp. 98-117.  Ian Randle Publishers.

2003 “Rethinking Global and Area Studies: Insights from the Caribbean.” American Anthropologist (105)3:  553-565.  (co-authored with Deborah Thomas)

2003 “Discourses and Counter Discourses on Globalization and the St. Lucian Banana Industry.” In: Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History. Steve Striffler and Mark Moberg, editors, pp.306-357.  Duke University Press.

2001 “Negotiating Identity and Black Feminist Politics in Caribbean Research.” In: Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Praxis, Poetics, and Politics. Irma McClaurin, editor, pp. 126-149. Rutgers University Press.