Rashida K. Braggs

Rashida K. Braggs

Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Comparative Literature and American Studies

Hollander Hall Rm 312


B.A. Yale University (1998)
M.S. Boston University (2000)
Ph.D. Northwestern University (2006)

Areas of Expertise

Performance Studies, Jazz Studies, African Diaspora Studies, Mass Communications (Advertising), Popular Culture Studies and Sport Studies

Scholarship/Creative Work

Select Publications

  • Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music and Migration in Post-World War II Paris. Berkeley: U of California P, 2016.
  • “Behind the scenes of Paris Blues: The Same Old Racism from a Different Angle.” Booklet. Paris Blues. DVD & Blu-ray. British Film Institute, 2016.
  • “Evoking Baldwin’s Blues.” James Baldwin Review 1 (2015): 152-163.
  • “Kenny Clarke & the Desire for More Inclusive ‘Black Music.’” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 4.2 (2015): 155-168.
  • “Between African-American and European: Kenny Clarke’s Musical Migrations.”African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal. 4.1 (2011): 201-211.
  • “Lost Jazz Lives Recovered Between Fact and Fiction.” Journal of Popular Music Studies. 20.1 (2008): 26-43.

Select Conferences, Presentations, and Interviews

  • “Performing ‘Sonny’s Blues’: The Sounds of Racialized Trauma.” Invited Lecture. Department of Performance Studies. Northwestern University, Evanston, February 15, 2017.
  • Chair and Presenter. “African American Women Jazz Musicians in Paris: The Case of Denise King.” International Committee: Home Away from Home: African American Migration Abroad. American Studies Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, November 17-20, 2016.
  • “Improvising Sidney Bechet’s Subjectivities.” Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium in Guelph, Canada, September 14-18, 2016.
  • “A Peak into Jazz Diasporas.” Invited Lecture. Riffing the Repertoire Series. American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, October 20, 2016.
  • “Stew Performs Black Consciousness.” Performing Blackness Symposium: Stew, The Negro Problem and Passing Strange. The John L. Warfield Center and The Performance as Public Practice Program. University of Texas, Austin, November 13, 2015.
  • Interview on the life of Sidney Bechet. When African Americans Came to Paris, Part 2. Dir. Joanne Burke. Blue Lion Films, 2014.
  • “Jazz in Korea: Performing Ethnic Community & Tradition.” Performance Studies International Conference in Shanghai, China, July 4-8, 2014.
  • “Kenny Clarke.” L’épopée des musiques noires. Narr. Joe Farmer. Radio France Internationale. January 11, 2014.

Select Performances

  • Spoken Word Performer and Film Editor, “Paris, Repeated Site of Flight.” James Baldwin Conference in Paris, France, May 25-28, 2016.
  • Voice Artist and Choreographer, “The Round.” Projet in Situ. Mass Moca in Williamstown, Massachusetts, May 19-20, 2016.
  • Dancer and Choreographer, “Me and Monsieur Bechet.” ’62 Center, Big Dance Studio. Dance 208 and Africana Studies 317. Williams College. Williamstown, Massachusetts, March 8, 2016.
  • Spoken Word Performer, “Sonny’s Blues.” Merced County Arts Council in Merced, California, February 26, 2016.
  • Actress and Co-Director, “Medals.” Black Gold. The 2013 Black Performance Theory Working Session in Austin, Texas, April 12-14, 2013.

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

  • American Theatre & Drama Society Faculty Research Award. Awarded by the American Theatre & Drama Society, 2015-2016.
  • The Morroe Berger-Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund. Awarded by the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, 2015-2016.
  • Hellman Fellows Grant. Awarded by the Hellman Family Foundation, 2015-2016.
  • The Class of 1945 World Fellowship. Awarded by Williams College, 2014-2015.
  • Ghaemian Junior Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship. Awarded by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies at Universität Heidelberg, 2009-2010.
  • Introduction to Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship. Awarded by Stanford University, 2006-2009, 2010-2011.

Professional Affiliations

American Studies Association
American Comparative Literature Association
Modern Language Association
Association of Theatre in Higher Education
American Society for Theatre Research
Collegium of African American Research
The Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas
Black Performance Theory
Japanese Black Studies Association
Performance Studies International
Society for American Music

Africana Studies Advisory Committee
Comparative Literature Program
Comparative Literature Advisory Committee
American Studies Program
Claiming Williams Steering Committee


Rashida K. Braggs is Associate Professor in Africana Studies and faculty affiliate in American Studies and Comparative Literature at Williams College. With her background in Humanities (IHUM postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University), Performance Studies (Ph.D. Northwestern University), Mass Communications (M.S. Boston University), and Theater Studies and English (B.A. Yale University), Dr. Braggs introduces a performative lens to African diasporic cultural expressions, from jazz to sports to mass media. She consistently introduces a performative lens to African diasporic cultural expressions, from jazz to sports to mass media. Her book Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music and Migration in Post-World War II Paris (2016) analyzes music, literature, film, historical documents and ethnographic interviews in order to investigate the illusion of a color-blind Paris that seduced African American musicians, the strategies they used to thrive in Paris, and the transformations in personal identity that paralleled jazz’s own morphing identity from 1946-1963. Her work has also been published in such journals as Nottingham French Studies, The Journal of Popular Music, Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International and The James Baldwin Review.

Dr. Braggs consistently interweaves her scholarly explorations with her pedagogical practices. As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, she has taught classes in introductory theater and performance, race & gender in literature, and American literature & art history. Her courses at Williams College such as 13 Ways of Looking at JazzGroovin’ the Written Word: The Role of Music in African American Literature, Race(ing) Sports: Issues, Themes and Representations of Black Athletes, and Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora all teach students to explore ways that performance, though seemingly just entertainment, conveys much about a society’s values, patterns and negotiations of power. In addition to her scholarship and pedagogy, Dr. Braggs enjoys putting performance to practice by acting, writing, slamming poetry, singing, and playing multiple sports.