I am Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at University of Virginia. I joined UVA in 2017 after having served at University of California, Riverside for four years in the Ethnic Studies Department as Assistant Professor of African American Studies. I earned my doctoral degree from Duke University in the English Department with a certificate in African and African American Studies and before Duke, I attended the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, earning a Master of Theological Studies degree with a concentration in feminist thought and queer theology. My research and teaching experiences are in the areas of Black Studies, Performance Theory and Sound Studies, Philosophy and Theology, Black Feminist and Queer theories.

My first book project, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press, 2016), engages a wide range of critical paradigms from black studies, queer theory, and sound studies to theology, continental philosophy, and performance studies to theorize the ways in which alternative or “otherwise” modes of existence can serve as disruptions against the marginalization of and violence against minoritarian lifeworlds and possibilities for flourishing. Examining the whooping, shouting, noise-making, and speaking in tongues of Black Pentecostalism–a multi-racial, multi-class, multi-national Christian sect with one strand of its modern genesis in 1906 Los Angeles–Blackpentecostal Breath reveals how these aesthetic practices allow for the emergence of alternative modes of social organization. These choreographic, sonic, and visual practices and the sensual experiences they create are not only important for imagining what I call “otherwise worlds of possibility,” they also yield a general hermeneutics, a methodology for reading culture in an era when such expressions are increasingly under siege.

I have published or upcoming work in CR: The New Centennial Review and have published in Performance Research; Current Musicology; Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society; The Journal of Theology and Sexuality; Black Theology: An International Journal and in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Most recently, I have published literary essays with The Los Angeles Review of Books; The New Inquiry; The Normal School; Interfictions and Avidly. I also have book chapters in Black Gender and Sexuality: A Reader (Palgrave MacMillan) and Race and Displacement: Nation, Migration, and Identity in the Twenty-First Century (The University of Alabama Press).


  1. danielimburgia
    July 22, 2014

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    Very much looking fwd to your book. Much obliged.

  2. Marie Nadine Pierre
    December 13, 2015

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    Jah love brother. I am excited to read and review your book. I am doing research on the philosophy of love expressed in black aesthetics specifically in Ayiti cultural production as well as RastafarI. I am super interested in polyamory. ecology and black philosophy. Thanks for all of your uplifting tweets too. They are good for my soul. I was as graduate student at UC Berkeley from 1990-1993. I so wish that you coulda been there too. Those were some special times and we needed more blacks who believe in empowering other blacks through intellectual and academic chemins (for lack of a better word). I will stay in touch.
    Blessed love.

  3. Warren Crichlow
    August 4, 2016

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    Congratulations on the forthcoming publication of your new book, “Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility.” Fantastic title! I am also very interested in your course, “The Sounds of James Baldwin. Terrific selection of Baldwin texts! You indicate additional readings assigned via the course site. My interest is in the relationship between Baldwin’s formation in the Pentecostal Church and the development of his public pedagogical voice/sound as an critical activist intellectual beyond the literary world. I would be grateful if you might share recommendations from your course readings that speak to my interests. Thanks so much and all the very best!

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