Kali-Ahset Amen

Assistant Director, James Weldon Johnson Institute


Kali-Ahset Amen is a political sociologist and curator of the Africana experience in the Americas. She received her B.A. in African Studies from Columbia University in New York, and her Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, 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 current research interests, inspired by six years of fieldwork in Panama, focus on transnational processes of racialization and citizenship inequality in Central America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. South. Amen 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 Assistant 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 CDC Museum at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As an independent curator, Amen has collaborated with a variety of cultural and educational institutions to implement public history programs and exhibitions. Recent curatorial projects in 2014-2015 include: Unearthing the Weeping Time: Georgia’s Hidden Landscapes of Slavery; Afro-Panamanian Altars + Shrines: Cultural Remembering and Community Building through Altarmaking; Resettling in America: Georgia’s Refugee Communities; and Uprising! Radical Abolitionism in the Mid-Atlantic States, 1850-1859.

In addition to her work in academic and museum spaces, Amen is also an award-winning radio producer, earning honorable mention 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.