bio

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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.

My second book, The Lonely Letters, will be published with Duke University Press in the spring of 2020. The Lonely Letters is a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical attempt to think the relationship of quantum theory, mysticism, relationality, and blackness together by considering the sound and noise of Blackpentecostal spaces. In an epistolary form, The Lonely Letters is about love and heartbreak and hope and joy. It is about sound and subjectivity, about desire and movement. 19 original paintings created from my performance art practice will be included in the text. It’s about the sociality of life against the repressions of anti-black, anti-queer violence and violation, it’s about black life as performance life as joyous life.

I am working on a third book, tentatively titled Made Instrument, about the role of the Hammond Organ in the Black Church, in Black sacred practice and in Black social life more broadly.

All my work is about otherwise possibility … 

4 Replies to “bio”

  1. 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.

  2. 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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