Kali-Ahset Amen

Associate Director, James Weldon Johnson Institute


Kali-Ahset Amen is a political sociologist and curator of Africana experience in the Americas. She received the B.A. in African Studies from Columbia University in New York, and the Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta, upon completing the dissertation project: "Black Panama and Globalization in the Neoliberal Era". Prior to moving to Atlanta, Amen lived in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Washington, D.C., where she implemented community-based programs and advocacy research on global health and migration, education policy, and environmental sustainability.

Amen’s research interests focus on transnational processes of racialization and citizenship inequality in Central America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. South. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on global inequality and international development at Emory University, and delivered public lectures and workshops on racial and economic justice for trade unions, civic associations, and media organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, Amen is Associate Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. Previously, she served as Postdoctoral Curatorial Associate of the David J. Sencer Museum at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As an independent curator, Amen has collaborated with a variety of cultural and educational institutions to produce public history programs and exhibitions exploring Africana experience in the Americas. Select projects include: Unearthing the Weeping Time: Georgia’s Hidden Landscapes of Slavery (2014); Afro-Panamanian Altars + Shrines (2014); Uprising! Radical Abolitionism in the Mid-Atlantic States, 1850-1859 (2015); and Resettling in America: Georgia’s Refugee Communities, co-curated with Louise Shaw (2015). In 2016, Amen led a multi-country research expedition to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea on behalf of the CDC to build a physical collection of cultural and medical artifacts related to Ebola response efforts. These field-based activities support the major CDC museum exhibition, Ebola: People, Public Health, Political Will (2017), for which Amen served as an advising curator.

In addition to her work in academic and museum spaces, Amen is also an award-winning radio producer, earning finalist recognition in 2013 from the Atlanta Press Club for excellence in radio reporting, a “2013 Pioneer Journalist” award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, and two national Gracie Awards (2011, 2012) from the Alliance for Women in Media. From 2008-2015, Amen was an on-air host and executive producer of public affairs programming on Atlanta’s Pacifica Network affiliate WRFG 89.3 FM.