Africana Studies

The trans-Atlantic slave trade has permanently shaped many aspects of life in Africa and in the societies where people of African descent have settled. Any attempt to understand globalization, modern capitalism and the histories of Africa, the Americas and the world must include study of the slave trade and the African Diaspora.

This cluster strengthens the existing Africana Studies program, which brings together faculty from English, history, political science, sociology and anthropology, and theatre. It aims to add expertise in transnational approaches to the African Diaspora.

The Africana Studies cluster is overseen by a new director, James B. Peterson, associate professor of English. In addition, the cluster was initially awarded four faculty positions, which expanded to five. The possible fields of study: the history, literature, religions and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.

Faculty Lead: James Peterson, Department of English and Africana Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Bios

Appointed Fall 2015
Natanya Duncan
Assistant Professor, History and Africana Studies Program

Natanya Duncan earned her doctorate in twentieth century American history at the University of Florida and her bachelor’s of arts in history at Clark Atlanta University. Before joining Lehigh’s faculty, Duncan served as an assistant professor at Morgan State University. Her research interests include twentieth century African American women and gender, black nationalism and diaspora studies. She has published her work in the Journal of New York History and has forthcoming work in Women Gender and Families.

Appointed August, 2012
Kwame Essien 
Assistant Professor, History / Africana Studies Cluster

Kwame Essien earned his doctorate in African and African diaspora history from the University of Texas at Austin, his master’s degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Prior to Lehigh, Essien served as a Derrick Gondwe postdoctoral fellow at Gettysburg College, and an assistant professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Essien co-authored Culture and Customs of Sudan, and has published articles, chapters, reviews, and encyclopedia entries. He has presented his work at national and international conferences, and is the recipient of the 2011 Junior Scholar Excellence Award in African Studies. Essien’s research focus is on comparative histories of slavery, reverse migrations, race and cultures in Africa, and the African diaspora/Atlantic world, homophobia in Africa and African American history in Ghana/West Africa.

Appointed August, 2013:
Susan Elizabeth Kart
Assistant Professor, Art Architecture & Design / Africana Studies Cluster
Susan Elizabeth Kart earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in African art history from Columbia University.  Her bachelor’s degree in art history was awarded with high honors from Smith College.  She also studied at the Paris IV-Sorbonne in Paris, France.  Prior to joining Lehigh’s faculty, Kart served as a professor of African art history at Sarah Lawrence College and as curator for the Art Gallery at Yonkers Riverfront Library, where she has curated or overseen twelve exhibitions.  She has published in journals such as Critical Interventions, African Studies Review, and African Arts, and is working on new articles and a book about her research, found object art in post-colonial Senegal and the work of Moustapha Dimé. 

Appointed August, 2013:   
Monica R. Miller
Assistant Professor, Religion Studies / Africana Studies Cluster
Monica R. Miller earned her Ph.D. in theology, ethics, and human science from Chicago Theological Seminary, master’s degree in theological studies from Drew University, and bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Fordham University.  Miller joins Lehigh's faculty having served as a visiting assistant professor and Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the department of religious studies at Lewis and Clark College.  She is the author of Religion and Hip Hop, co-author of Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain (forthcoming), numerous book chapters, and articles in journals and popular publications. Her research has been featured in regional and national print, radio, live video, and TV news outlets; as well as colleges, universities, and conferences throughout the U.S., Cuba and Canada.  Miller’s research interests include religion in culture, youth cultures, and new black religious movements.

Appointed August, 2013: 
Darius Omar Williams
Assistant Professor, Theatre Department / Africana Studies Cluster
Darius Omar Williams earned his doctorate in theatre with a specialization in African diaspora and African American theatre from the Ohio State University, his M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, his M.A. in theatre from Bowling Green State University, and his bachelor’s degree in speech and dramatic art from Jackson State University.  He is a co-editor of Mighty Real: An Anthology of African American Same Gender Loving Writing, and has published two poetry collections.  Williams is a playwright, director, historian and Equity actor.  He was nominated for an Independent Reviewer of New England Best Actor Award in 2002.  Williams’ research focuses on indigenous African ritual performance traditions, black southern queer culture, and the intersection of Yoruba and Mississippi Delta Blues tradition.  His original play, Chocolate Cocoa on a Winter Night, was produced as a staged reading for the 2006 Theater Offensive’s Out on the Edge Theatre Festival.

 

Students in a classroom