Current Fellows

For the 2018-2019 academic year, the James Weldon Johnson Institute is pleased to welcome 7 visiting scholars for all or part of the academic year.  We owe our growth to a number of sponsors: 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. Keisha Brown (Tennessee State University)

Keisha A. Brown is an Assistant Professor of History at Tennessee State University in the Department of History, Political Science, Geography, and Africana Studies. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and earned her doctorate from the University of Southern California. Dr. Brown specializes in East Asian history, specifically modern China. Her research and teaching interests include comparative East Asian histories, postcolonial theory, transnational studies, world history, and race and ethnic studies. Her latest publication, “Blackness in Exile: W.E.B. Du Bois’ Role in the Formation of Representations of Blackness as Conceptualized by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)” analyzes W.E.B. Du Bois’ performativity of race in China. During her residency at Emory, Dr. Brown will work on her book manuscript, tentatively entitled Beyond Colored Paradigms: Representations of Blackness in China, which explores Sino-African American relations and Blackness in Republican era and Maoist China. Her research examines networks of difference in China used to understand the Black foreign other through an investigation of the social and political context that African Americans navigated and negotiated during their time in Maoist China.


Dr. Jeremiah Favara (University of Oregon)

Jeremiah Favara is a critical media studies scholar whose research and teaching focus on intersecting dynamics of gender, race, sexuality, class, and other forms of difference in media production, representation, and technologies. He is a graduate of Montana State University and received an MSc in Gender, Development, and Globalisation from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2011 and a PhD in Media Studies from the University of Oregon in 2017. His work has been published in Feminist Media Studies, Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, and Critical Military Studies. Dr. Favara’s research on representations of diversity and inclusion in military recruitment advertising has been recognized by the American Journalism Historians Association and the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History at Duke University.

During his residency at Emory, Dr. Favara will work on his book manuscript, currently titled An Army of Some: Inclusion and Diversity in U.S. Military Recruiting. Focusing on military recruitment advertising strategies and representations from 1973 through 2016, An Army of Some explores the processes through which an institution tasked with the maintenance of state violence and historically defined by racial and gender exclusion has become one of the most diverse American institutions. In investigating strategies and representations of military recruiting, the analysis contextualizes the project of military inclusion within broader dynamics of racial capitalism and interrogates how narratives of equity, inclusion, and multiculturalism, when sutured to the military institution, expose newly included individuals to risks and costs of perpetuating state violence.


Dr. Lindsay Livingston (Brigham Young University)

Lindsay Adamson Livingston is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Brigham Young University. She received her PhD in Theatre from The City University of New York. Lindsay’s scholarly work explores the interplay of race, space, and performance in public locations in the United States. Her scholarship has been published in Theatre Journal, TDR, Theatre Survey, a/b: Auto/Biography and the essay collections Performance in a Militarized Culture and Enacting History. She is an active member of the American Studies Association, The Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and The American Society of Theatre Research. She currently serves as the Conference Planner for ATHE’s Performance Studies Focus Group. Lindsay is also a director whose BYU credits include The Merchant of Venice, Gone Missing, The Cleverest Thief, and The Winter’s Tale.  While at Emory, Livingston will be working on her book manuscript about the racialized performances that are implicated in the debate around gun control.



Dwight Lewis (University of South Florida)

Dwight Lewis, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Florida (Tampa, FL), works under Roger Ariew and Justin EH Smith in the History of Philosophy. His research focuses on concepts of human difference (e.g., race, gender and sexuality), underrepresented philosophers, and early modern philosophy, generally construed. He will defend his dissertation, Amo's Philosophy and Reception: from the Origins through the Encyclopédie, in the Spring of 2019.

His dissertation seeks to address (1) the lack of diversity in the philosophical canon and (2) the insufficient historical analysis of various designations of human difference (i.e., race). He does so by interrogating the work of Anton Amo - the first African to obtain a doctoral degree in philosophy (1734) at a modern European university. Amo was both a philosopher in 18th Century Germany and an African slave. Amo embodies the fact that philosophy and race share a symbiotic relationship.  Lewis’ research attempts to elucidate Amo’s philosophical significance and its relation to race and human difference.


Rafael Solorzano (University of California, Los Angeles)

Rafael Solarzano is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chicano/a Studies at UCLA. He has been an educational and immigrant rights advocate and community organizer for over 15 years and has been a part of many community and statewide campaigns designed to counter racial violence, achieve educational justice and end the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline.

While in residence, Rafael will be completing his dissertation, Queering the Emergent Borderlands; Undocuqueer Activism in the U.S. South, which investigates how theTrail of Dreams, a four-month walk from Miami, FL to Washington D.C., redefined migrant rights activism in 2010. He traces how undocumented youth activists and their allies, not only advocated for a pathway to citizenship, but introduced new ideas about what rights are, who should be at the center for the fight for migrant rights, and what new strategies to use in attaining them. This project has received grant support from the University of California, Los Angeles’s Institute of American Cultures, UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, and Tamar Diana Wilson Fund. 

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 one faculty fellow from Spelman College.


Dr. Moon Charania (Spelman College)

Moon Charania is an Assistant Professor in International Studies at Spelman College and a 2018 UNCF-Mellon Faculty Fellow at Emory University. A cultural theorist of race, sex, trauma, and empire in the late twentieth and early twenty-first-century United States and Pakistan, Dr. Charania is the author of Will the Real Pakistani Woman Please Stand Up: Empire, Visual Culture, and the Brown Female Body (McFarland Press, 2015). In this book, Dr. Charania offers a detailed analysis of multiple kinds of figures of Pakistani women that currently travel in transnational media, books and film, fruitfully troubling and radically expanding our knowledge of the place of gender, sexuality and racialization in the (neo-) colonial production of otherness and its materialized deployment in global politics.

Dr. Charania is currently working on her second book manuscript, tentatively titled, Learning My Mother’s Tongue/s: Affective Archives, Queer Intimacies, and Maternal Trauma, a project that follows in the tradition of Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldua and Dionne Brand in the mode of creative nonfiction to think though trauma and feminist theory, neo/colonialisms and diaspora and the intimate geographies of race.

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


Timothy Rainey (Emory University)

Timothy Rainey is a Ph.D. candidate within the Graduate Division of Religion, studying American religious cultures.  His research focuses on economics, race, and religion in the 19th-century Atlantic world (especially regarding notions of labor, social mobility mythology, uplift rhetoric, and the ways each has changed over time).  He gives particular attention to the concept of 'economic emancipation' and the ways this liberative notion has captured the spiritual imagination of Black Americans. He frames economic emancipation as a value-laden concept with vibrant and nuanced manifestations evinced in the histories of African recolonization efforts, ideologies that have attempted to leverage the im/materiality of Africa as a sacred symbol, the participation of black churches in economic cooperation and the controversial notion that black capitalism could inaugurate black liberation.