Research Overview

My dissertation, L’Italia Meticcia: Being and Belonging in the Black Mediterranean (2017), offered a survey of readings of postcolonial, anticolonial, and migration literature written by Italian writers of East African descent. In that project, I researched the marginalized corpus of anticolonial East African and Black Italian writers to affirm ontologies of blackness in the wake of widespread dispossession of Black livelihood in Italy. I examined literary, historical, and geopolitical sites to generate a multivalent analysis useful to the broad mandate of Black Studies, including grappling with the dialectical conceits of citizenship and nonbelonging. This work was informed by the turn to creolization in Caribbean Studies, the turn towards mixed identities and hybridity in Queer and Postcolonial Studies, the incisive attention to history in Black Studies, and the postcolonial turn in Italian Studies.

In my current research, I continue to engage with proliferating scholarship on Black, migrant, and postcolonial Europe as well as concerns with the variegated movements of peoples, cultures, and ethnoracial categories throughout the Mediterranean. That is the topic of my book, provisionally titled Where Blackness Meets the Sea: On Crisis, Culture, and the Black Mediterranean, in which I trace the legacies of colonialism and fascism in contemporary discourse around citizenship and asylum in Italy and mobility and belonging throughout Europe with a literary and historical analysis of Black Mediterranean geographies. My research on the Black Mediterranean further attends to Mediterranean Maghrebi, Francophone, and Italophone contexts with regard to postcolonial literature and the intercultural Mediterranean solidarities forged with another “mediterranean” (i.e., “middle earth”) sea—that is, the Red Sea bordering the Horn of Africa. Extending my research to this geopolitical area will define my next major academic project.

My transdisciplinary research agenda has allowed me to live in conversation with Black methodologies, challenge my understanding of key notions such as transnationalism, citizenship, borders, and diaspora. I am also, increasingly, engaging in scholarship about racialized gender, Black trans poetics, nonbinary embodiment, and Black transfeminism. Recently, I’ve written about Black feminism and trans embodiment for two forthcoming volumes. My scholarship is informed by my own embodiment and positionality, and the years I have spent in various social justice movements and literary collectives. Thus, as an educator interested in fostering conversation in multiple registers, I also maintain an arts practice. In 2015-16, I completed a performance tour throughout Germany, Italy, and the UK entitled “Proclivity: Too Black, Too Queer” which explored the concepts of intersectionality, gender identity, ambivalence towards the call for Eurocentric recognition, and accumulation through global and regionalized circuits of social capital. I have also written a chapbook, hiraeth: poems, and am completing at work on another volume, proclivity.