Africana Studies is proud to announce that Prof. Rhon Manigault-Bryant and Prof. Neil Roberts have recently been awarded tenure at Williams College (Jan. 2014). Along with Prof. James Manigault-Bryant’s positive tenure decision last year (Jan. 2013), these recent decisions represent the culmination of many years of struggle, hope, alliance-building, and hard work! We know that our students will benefit for a long time from these extraordinary additions to our faculty – each one of them is a scholar of distinction, a dedicated and inspired teacher, and a public intellectual, as befits the unique history and tradition of Africana Studies.
Prof. Rhon Manigault-Bryant (RMB, as we know her) is a former Bolin Fellow at Williams College (2006-2007), and her work combines the study of religion, women’s studies, media and film studies, and the history of Black music. Two of her books are due out this summer. The first, Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah/Geechee Women is an ethnographic study of seven women that explores unique spiritual traditions in Gullah/Geechee culture. The second, Womanist and Black Feminist Responses to Tyler Perry’s Productions, is a critical response to the contemporary characterizations of black female religious expression prevalent in the works of media mogul Tyler Perry.
Prof. Neil Roberts brings the Caribbean and Africana social and political philosophy to bear on our program through his teaching and scholarship. He combines work on Haiti and Jamaica in his forthcoming book from University of Chicago Press, Freedom as Marronage (2014), a novel interpretation of the ways in which Haitian maroon communities made contemporary notions of freedom possible and meaningful for the entire Western tradition, and combining these ideas with those of Jamaican Rastafarians to show the enduring value of West Indian ideas in our own quest for freedom. His other works including Creolizing Rousseau, the Trayvon Martin event symposium in Theory & Event, his role as Managing Editor of The C.L.R. James Journal, and a book he is completing for the University Press of Kentucky, A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass, which underscores an ongoing engagement with theory and its significance for contemporary political issues.
Congratulations! Our colleagues stand in a long line of Africana intellectual accomplishment at Williams College – from our early giants Rayford Logan, Sterling Brown and Allison Davis – and we look forward to reading, discussing, and engaging their important work in the years to come.