Current Fellows

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the James Weldon Johnson Institute is pleased to welcome 11 visiting scholars for all or part of the academic year.  We owe our growth to a number of sponsors: Emory College of Arts and Sciences, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the United Negro College Fund, among others. Navigate the tabs below to read about each of our remarkable fellows.

As a result of the continued support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are pleased to host three distinguished scholars of all ranks to Emory to complete a project of their choice:


Dr. Ashley Brown (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Ashley Brown is a twentieth-century United States historian whose research and teaching focus on African-American history, women’s history, and the history of sport.  She believes that sport is intrinsic to American culture and history, carrying the potential to initiate critical discussions about race, gender, mass culture and media, and labor. Dr. Brown has been appointed Assistant Professor of History and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2015, her article, “Swinging for the State Department: American Women Tennis Players in Diplomatic Goodwill Tours, 1941-1959,” was honored by the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) and published in the Journal of Sport History. Brown earned her Ph.D. in American Studies at George Washington University. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College. During her residency at Emory, Dr. Brown will work on the book manuscript “The Match of Her Life: Althea Gibson, Icon and Instrument of Integration,” a biography of Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.


Dr. Felipe Hinojosa (Texas A&M University)

Born and raised in the borderlands town of Brownsville, Texas (located on the southernmost tip of Texas), Felipe Hinojosa is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University. He received his BA in English from Fresno Pacific University in 1999, an MA in History at the University of Texas Pan American in 2004, and a PhD in History from the University of Houston in 2009. Professor Hinojosa’s teaching and research interests include Latina/o and Mexican American Studies, American Religion, Social Movements, Gender, and Comparative Race and Ethnicity. He serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the History Department and is the co-founder and co-coordinator for the Latina/o Studies Working Group, which is sponsored by the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University.

Professor Hinojosa’s first book, Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture, was published in 2014 by Johns Hopkins University Press. The book was awarded the 2015 Américo Paredes Book Award for the best book in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies given every year by the Center for Mexican American Studies at South Texas College.

Professor Hinojosa’s current research project, tentatively titled “Apostles of Change: Radical Politics and the Making of Latino Religion,” investigates how a few and relatively unknown church takeovers—by groups such as the Young Lords and Católicos Por La Raza—inspired a Latina/o religious renaissance, both cultural and political, in the 1970s. The analysis not only investigates the role of theology and faith—a story common to other Latina/o religious narratives—but centers radical politics as fundamental to understanding the origins of Latina/o religious politics in the United States.


Dr. Alison Parker (SUNY-Brockport)

Alison M. Parker is a Professor of History at the College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY). She majored in art history and history at the University of California, Berkeley and earned a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.  Parker teaches about the intersections of gender, race, disability, citizenship and the law in U.S. history. On her campus, she has been helping to build a coalition of students, faculty, and staff who are promoting a wide-ranging anti-racism agenda.

Parker is the author of two historical monographs, Articulating Rights: Nineteenth-Century American Women on Race, Reform, and the State (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010) and Purifying America: Women, Cultural Reform, and Pro-Censorship Activism, 1873-1933 (Illinois University Press, 1997).  She has also co-edited three anthologies and authored numerous articles and book chapters. Parker is the co-editor of a new book series, Gender and Race in American History, for the University of Rochester Press. She was awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity in 2012. Parker is currently writing a biography of Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954), the first president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The book, “Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell,” will appear in the John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture of the University of North Carolina Press.


Derek Handley (Carnege Mellon University)

Derek Handley is a Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University.  He is also a Navy veteran.  His dissertation, “Strategies for Performing Citizenship: Rhetorical Citizenship and the Black Freedom Movement” investigates citizenship as a mode of rhetorical resistance used by African Americans to respond to urban renewal and housing policies during the 1950s and 60s.  Using a multiple case study method, Handley examines the rhetorical and discursive strategies embraced by African Americans in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee in their attempts to protect their communities from destruction, and to assert their rights as “first class” citizens. He argues that African American residents operated as rhetorical citizens in a struggle for power with municipalities over the future of their neighborhoods.  

This research and analysis of urban renewal discourse contributes to African American rhetorical history by demonstrating the central role of urban renewal arguments in the overall circulation of Civil Rights rhetoric.  Resistance rhetoric has been central to notions of “full citizenship” among African Americans.  In addition, this project fills a void in African American studies by examining rhetoric’s ability to simultaneously resist government change caused by urban renewal and impact the social and political identity of African American residents amid the rhetorical situation.


Kyera Singleton (University of Michigan)

Kyera Singleton is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Her research and teaching interests include nineteenth century Black women's history,  slavery and carceral studies, and the study of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Her dissertation "Containing Black Women: Gendered Geographies of Imprisonment in the American South, 1840-1900" illuminates the lived experience of enslaved and free black women, who were imprisoned in the U.S. South, focusing primarily on Maryland, from slavery to the turn of the twentieth century. She traces the racial, social and economic injustices Black women endured while held captive in dungeons on plantations, stowed away at trader’s yards, confined to penitentiaries, and forced to labor in workhouses. She draws on court records, newspaper editorials, matron and warden journals, governors’ papers, arrest ledgers, slave narratives, and clemency petitions to understand how Black women responded to carceral spaces and how they sought to claim ownership over their lives and labor as they navigated slavery and the rise of the penitentiary.

The Mellon Foundation supports a semester-long visiting scholars program for faculty of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This year, we are pleased to welcome three faculty fellows from Spelman College this year.


Dr. Alexandria Lockett (Spelman College)

Dr. Alexandria Lockett is an Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College where she teaches professional writing, rhetoric, and new media courses.  She earned her Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University.  Her research focuses on how scaled information production affects language, culture, and communication.  While in residence at Emory, Dr. Lockett will working on the book manuscript Overflow:  Literary and Rhetorical Perspectives on Leaks.  This project, which is inspired by her dissertation, critically investigates the technological politics of race and the racial politics of surveillance paradigms and security practices by focusing on the meaning of the term "leaks."  Through her grammatical examination of "leaks," as both a noun and a verb, she analyzes their dramatic representations in diverse texts such as 19th and 20th century newspapers and black literary texts, Watergate memoirs, and new media.

As this project demonstrates, Dr. Lockett is especially concerned about the ethics of making, managing, and distributing data.  She features this interest in her teaching and service by encouraging her entire community to edit Wikipedia and confront its lack of racial and gender diversity.  In particular, Dr. Lockett created and directed a three-day faculty development symposium (2016) entitled, "Integrating Wikipedia into Writing-Intensive Courses," with the assistance of a $10,500 grant from the American Colleges of the South (ACS).  She also organized Spelman College's first-ever Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, a public event designed to increase Black Women's Herstory. 

Dr. Ashante Reese (Spelman College)

Ashante Reese is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Spelman College.  She earned her Ph.D. from American University.  Her research focuses on neighborhoods, race, unequal food access, and the food geographies residents create as they navigate inequalities.  While in residence at Emory, Dr. Reese will be working on her book manuscript entitled,  Between a Corner Store and a Safeway: Race and Food Access in the Nation's Capital. Situating the neighborhood in historical and contemporary perspectives, this ethnographic study specifically examines the roles of race and class in the gradual decline in food access and how residents actively navigated food inequalities through strategies grounded in community-based praxis. 

In addition to research, Dr. Reese enjoys co-creating dynamic, innovative classroom spaces with students. As part of her teaching philosophy and practice, she encourages students to re-imagine anthropology beyond its narrow depictions in popular imagination and to make concrete connections between theory, practice, and students’ lived experiences. From creating artwork to becoming “participant-observers,” students in her courses are encouraged to be reflective, creative, and “outside the box” thinkers. One of the most gratifying parts of teaching for Dr. Reese is hearing and seeing students develop an anthropological perspective that can help them develop cross-cultural understanding, empathy, and critical self-reflection.

As of Fall 2016, Dr. Reese teaches courses in the newly launched Food Studies program as one of its core faculty members. Since January 2016, she has been a contributing blogger for Food Anthropology ( where she writes about race, class, and food inequalities. 


Dr. Charissa Threat (Spelman College)

Charissa Threat is an Assistant Professor of History at Spelman College where she teaches courses in United States and African American history.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2008.  Her research focuses on the intersection of race, gender, social justice, and war and society in the United States. Her first book, Nursing Civil Rights: Gender and Race in the Army Nurse Corps (University of Illinois Press, 2015), won the 2017 Lavinia L. Dock Book Award from the American Association for the History of Nursing for outstanding research and writing on the history of nursing.  The book investigates civil rights within the context of the Army Nurse Corps, focusing on the campaigns of both black women and white men to gain access to the Corps.  She is also the author of several book chapters, most recently, “Patriotism is Neither Masculine or Feminine”: Gender and the Work of War” in the Routledge History of Gender, War and the US Military, Kara D. Vuic, ed. (Routledge Press, 2017) and an article.  While in residence at the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University, Dr. Threat will be working on her second book manuscript about black female pinups and black soldiers during World War II.  It examines home-front activities, wartime participation, and investigates how images and the activities of African American women and men highlight debates about race, sex, gendered identities, and relationships during and after the Second World War.

ACLS Fellow

In collaboration with the Department of African American Studies, JWJI is pleased to host a visiting fellow who is supported by the American Council for Learned Societies. 


Dr. Amrita Chakrabarti Myers (Indiana University)

Amrita Myers is the Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor of History and Gender Studies at Indiana University.  Her research focuses on issues of race, gender, freedom, sex, and power and the ways in which these constructs intersect with one another in the lives of black women in the Old South.

Her first book, Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston, (UNC Press, 2011) examines the lives of free black women, both legal and de facto, in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1790-1860. It is the winner of four awards, including the Phillis Wheatley Book Prize (Northeast Black Studies Association), the Julia Cherry Spruill Book Award (Southern Association of Women Historians), the Anna Julia Cooper-CLR James Award (National Council of Black Studies), and the George C. Rogers, Jr. Book Award (South Carolina Historical Society). 

While at Emory, Dr. Myers will be working on her current book project, "Remembering Julia: A Tale of Sex, Race, Power, and Place." Here, Myers examines the decades-long, antebellum-era relationship of Julia Chinn, a woman of color, and Kentucky planter and politician Richard Mentor Johnson, a white man who would serve as Vice President alongside President Martin Van Buren.

Emory College Incoming Faculty Fellow

This year, through a partnership with Emory College, JWJI is honored to host an incoming faculty fellow.  This unique opportunity allows an incoming Emory faculty member doing work on race time to have a year to focus on research while they acclimate to campus culture.


Dr. Justin Hosbey

Justin Hosbey is a sociocultural anthropologist, interdisciplinary ethnographer, and a student of Black Studies. Broadly, his intellectual work is interested in the ways that Black Americans have resisted anti-Black violence from the beginnings of racial slavery through its afterlife — using, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, “every single means of struggle: legal, illegal, passive, active, violent and non-violent.” More specifically, his ethnographic work explores Black social life in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Mississippi Delta regions, focusing on the ways that southern Black communities articulate insurgent modes of citizenship that demand the interruption of racial capitalism. Dr. Hosbey has also worked as an oral historian for the Alachua County African American History Project and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s Mississippi Freedom Project. He received his doctorate in Cultural Anthropology with a certificate in Digital Humanities from the University of Florida in 2016. This past academic year, he was a postdoctoral fellow for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded 'Synergies Among Digital Humanities & African American History and Culture’ initiative at the University of Maryland, College Park.

While in residence, Dr. Hosbey will be revising his dissertation, “Charter Schools, Black Social Life, and the Refusal of Death in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” into a book manuscript. This ethnographic project utilizes research methods from the digital and spatial humanities (specifically deep mapping, ArcGIS and Augmented Reality) to explore and visualize how the destruction of neighborhood schools in low income and working class Black communities has fractured, but not broken, Black space and place making in post-Katrina New Orleans. Dr. Hosbey’s research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Florida Education Fund, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. After his tenure at the James Weldon Johnson Institute, Dr. Hosbey will be Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. He is a proud native of Southwest Atlanta, Georgia.

James T. Laney Dissertation Fellow

With support from Emory's Laney Graduate School, JWJI provides one competitive fellowship for an Emory graduate student studying race.


Taína Figueroa (Emory University)

Taína Figueroa is a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at Emory University.  Originally from NYC/CT she received her B.A. in Philosophy from Trinity College.  Her areas of specialization include Critical Philosophy of Race, Latinx/Latin American Philosophy, and Caribbean Philosophy.  Her dissertation focuses on the affect/emotion of pride as experienced by communities of color in the United States.  Beginning with pride as expressed and experienced by Puerto Ricans in the US and expanding to Latin@s and African Americans more broadly, she aims to highlight a form of pride that is crucial to the survival of racial minorities under systems of white supremacy and an affect that demonstrates the inseparable positive relationship between community and self in identity formation.