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The Department for Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), one of the most innovative Africana programs in the U.S., serves as the structural home for African American studies at the University of Michigan. Bridging humanities and social sciences, Africa and its diasporas, DAAS offers graduate and undergraduate curricula, as well as a graduate certificate program.

The Department of American Culture (AC) shares several jointly appointed faculty with DAAS, and a number of AC faculty working in African American studies have other affiliations. In close dialogue with American studies, cultural studies, and comparative ethnic studies, the American Culture's African American studies faculty-cluster explores a diverse array of interests: transatlantic circuits of culture, jazz and black musical aesthetics, African American literary production, gender, sexuality and power, black-Native American relations, Asian-African American relations, urban race politics, and, humor and other modes of black cultural production, among others. African American studies is home to award-winning teachers, innovative graduate and undergraduate course offerings, and exceptional scholarship that never fails to push the boundaries.

Our Faculty and Their Areas of Interest


Faculty and Areas of Interest

Su'ad Abdul Khabeer, Associate Professor. Areas of interest: intersection of race, religion, popular culture.

Stephen Berrey, Associate Professor of American Culture. Areas of interest: race and culture, African American history, U.S. South, 20th-century United States, cultural history.

James Cook, Professor of History. Areas of Interest: African American popular/mass culture; circumatlantic cultural exchanges and commerce; inter-racialism.

Matthew Countryman, Associate Professor of History. Areas of interest: African American social movements; 20th-century U.S. history; race, postwar liberalism, and the American left.

Sandra Gunning, Professor of English and American culture. Areas of Interest: 19th- and 20th-century American literature; Afro-American literature; American women writers; travel writing.

Diana LouisAssistant Professor. Areas of Interest: 19th- and 20th century African American literature and culture, global black feminisms, history of medicine, slavery, mental illness, sustainability, and disability.

Ava Purkiss, Assistant Professor. Areas of interest: race, gender, and health; black women’s history; African American history; modern American history; fitness culture; history of medicine; reproductive justice.

Alan Wald, H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor Emeritus of English Language & Literature and American Culture. Areas of interest: African American writers and the Left, 1930–1960.

Jessica Walker, Assistant Professor Afroamerican and African Studies; Assistant Professor of American Culture. Areas of interest: Black feminist theory, critical food studies, space and place.

Magdalena Zaborowska, Professor of American Culture and Afroamerican and African studies. Areas of interest: 20th-century immigrant literatures, African American literature; East European immigrant women writers; race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and (trans)national/-Atlantic identity in the novel; American identity and the city; architecture, erotics, urban and social space.



  • African American Culture WWII — 1960's
  • African Americans & the Politics of Culture
  • American Social Reflection: Thinking about Race and Society
  • Black Social Movements in 20th Century
  • Blacks, Indians and the Making of America
  • Civil War & the Reconstruction Era
  • Early Jazz: Music & World, 1900–1945
  • Exploring the Melting Pot: Immigrant Narratives in the United States
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Histories of Racial Formation in the Americas
  • History of Blacks in American Film
  • Images of African American Women
  • In and Out of the Burning House: The Art and Activism of James Baldwin
  • Interracial America
  • Modern Comedy in the US
  • Politics & Culture 1960's
  • Politics of Race in US since WWII
  • Race in America
  • Race, Culture, and Politics during the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Race, Racism & Ethnicity
  • Sex, Race, and Space
  • Topics in Caribbean Literature
  • Women of Color History & Myths

A few recent books...

Me and My House: James Baldwin's Last Decade in France

The last sixteen years of James Baldwin's life (1971–87) unfolded in a village in the South of France, in a sprawling house nicknamed “Chez Baldwin.” In Me and My House Magdalena J. Zaborowska employs Baldwin’s home space as a lens through which to expand his biography and explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works. Zaborowska shows how the themes of dwelling and black queer male sexuality in The Welcome TableJust above My Head, and If Beale Street Could Talk directly stem from Chez Baldwin's influence on the writer. The house was partially torn down in 2014. Accessible, heavily illustrated, and drawing on interviews with Baldwin's friends and lovers, unpublished letters, and manuscripts, Me and My House offers new insights into Baldwin's life, writing, and relationships, making it essential reading for all students, scholars, and fans of Baldwin.

James Baldwin′s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile

Between 1961 and 1971 James Baldwin spent extended periods of time in Turkey, where he worked on some of his most important books. In this first in-depth exploration of Baldwin’s “Turkish decade,” Magdalena J. Zaborowska reveals the significant role that Turkish locales, cultures, and friends played in Baldwin’s life and thought. Turkey was a nurturing space for the author, who by 1961 had spent nearly ten years in France and Western Europe and failed to reestablish permanent residency in the United States. Zaborowska demonstrates how Baldwin’s Turkish sojourns enabled him to re-imagine himself as a black queer writer and to revise his views of American identity and U.S. race relations as the 1960s drew to a close.