Harlem’s Schomburg Center Announces 2020-21 Fellows Scholars-In-Residence

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is pleased to announce its 2020-21 fellows for its Scholars-in-Residence program.

“In the midst of the anxiety and turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is gratifying to be able to maintain our commitment to the scholarship and writing that depends on extensive time in the archives,” said Brent Hayes Edwards, the director of the Scholars-in-Residence Program and the Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. “For me, the strength of the program is not only the support it provides to individual writers and scholars but also the unique intellectual community it fosters among fellows sharing the Scholars Center over the course of their residency. The curators and librarians at the Schomburg look forward to welcoming the new cohort.”

In 2020-21, the Scholars Center welcomes seven long-term fellows for either one semester or the full academic year. The new group will be pursuing a strikingly broad array of topics, from a history of the Cuban soldiers who fought in campaigns in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, to the political rhetoric cultivated by the Nation of Islam, to the archives built by AfroPuerto Rican intellectuals in Harlem:

  • Melissa Cooper (Assistant Professor of History, Rutgers University-Newark), “Conjuring Black Gods: Southern Migrants, Afrocentrism and the Search for African Religion in Northern Metropolises”
  • Malachi Crawford (Assistant Professor of History, Prairie View A&M University), “Speak of the Devil: The Nation of Islam, Righteous Anger, and the Rise of African American Free Speech”
  • Anasa Hicks (Assistant Professor of History, Florida State University), “Carlota’s Heirs: Masculinity and Military Service in Revolutionary Cuba”
  • Grace Sanders Johnson (Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania), “Love During Duvalier: Haiti, Kinship, and the Archive”
  • T. Urayoán Noel (Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, New York University), “Archival Diasporas: A Geospatial Poetics of Afro-Puerto Rican Harlem”
  • Russell Rickford (Associate Professor of History, Cornell University), “A Proxy Africa: Guyana, African Americans, and the Radical 1970s”
  • J. T. Roane (Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, Arizona State University), “Dark Agoras: Insurgent Black Social Life and the Politics of Place in Philadelphia”

In addition to its flagship long-term Scholars-in-Residence Program, the Schomburg Scholars Center now hosts fellows through multiple residencies.  In 2017, the Scholars-in-Residence Program inaugurated a short-term fellowship, which provides periods in residence between one and three months. The short-term fellowship, which provides periods in residence between one and three months, is open to creative writers as well as academics and independent scholars.


The 2020-21short-term fellows include: 

  • Jeffrey Renard Allen (novelist and poet), “Hour of the Seeds” [novel]
  • Stephanie Crease (independent scholar), “Chick Webb and the Musicians’ Great Migration to Harlem”
  • Rebecca Hall (historian and graphic novelist), “Taking Freedom: Black Women and Emancipation” [graphic novel]
  • Eve Meltzer (Associate Professor of Visual Studies and Visual Culture, Gallatin School, New York University), “Camera Lucida, Psyche Obscura: James Baldwin, America, and the Moving Image”
  • Phyllis Ross (independent scholar), “The Fabric of Activism”
  • Namwali Serpell (Associate Professor of English, University of California-Berkeley), “The Afronaut”

Through a collaboration with the CUNY Graduate Center, the Schomburg Scholars-in-Residence Program also sponsors one fellow who is completing a dissertation in a department there: 

  • Andrew Anastasi (Ph.D candidate, Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center), “The Other War at Home: The New Left Within and Against the War on Poverty”

Finally, the Scholars Center hosts the postdoctoral fellows funded by the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery: 

  • Ebony Jones (Assistant Professor of History, North Carolina State University), “Dangerous Characters: Geographies of Punishment and Atlantic World Slavery in the Age of Abolition”
  • Mike Jirik (Lecturer in History, University of Massachusetts), “Abolition and Academe: Struggles for Freedom and Equality at British and American Colleges, 1741-1855” 
  • Kali Tambreé (Ph.D candidate, Sociology, University of California-Los Angeles), “All Water Has Perfect Memory: Temporality and Historiography of the Middle Passage”

Since its establishment in 1983, the program has provided support to more than 220 scholars and writers, cementing its reputation as the premier residential research fellowship in the country for the fields of African American, African Diaspora, and African studies. Fellows receive individual office space and full access to the unparalleled resources and archival holdings of the Schomburg Center and The New York Public Library.

The New York Public Library’s research centers, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, remain temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, although they continue to offer virtual access to the Library’s collections through online databases, virtual reference support from librarians and expanded Electronic Document Delivery.

Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the preservation, research, interpretation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diasporan, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections totaling over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture. Learn more at schomburgcenter.org.

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.

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