Africana Studies

Donald Carter, Professor of Africana Studies

B.A., University of California at Santa Cruz; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Chicago
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Areas of expertise: culture theory, racial formation, visual culture, diaspora, invisibility and transnational cultural politics

Donald Martin Carter wrote Navigating The African Diaspora: The Anthropology of Invisibility, published in 2010, and States of Grace: Senegalese in Italy and the New European Immigration, published in 1997. His research interests include culture theory, racial formation, visual culture, diaspora, invisibility and transnational cultural politics. Carter, who came to Hamilton from the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, received a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Mark Cryer, Chair, Associate Professor of Theatre

B.A., University of Minnesota; M.F.A., Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
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Areas of expertise: acting, Shakespeare, African-American theatre, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen and August Wilson

Mark Cryer wrote and performs a one-act play, 99 Questions You've Always Wanted to Ask an African American But Were Too Afraid to Ask, which is a look at what we think and what we know about African-Americans. The play has been performed at the annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. and the Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Theatre Festival. Cryer appeared in the feature films Mighty Ducks 2, It Could Happen to You and The Peace Maker. He earned a master of fine arts in acting from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, Glasgow, Scotland, and studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Art, London.

A. Todd Franklin, the Sidney Wertimer Professor of Philosophy and Chair, Africana Studies

B.A., University of Chicago; Ph.D., Stanford University
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Areas of expertise: existentialism, African-American philosophy and Nietzsche

Todd Franklin's research focuses on the existential, social and political implications of various critical and transformative discourses aimed at cultivating individual and collective self-realization. He teaches courses on existentialism, Nietzsche and critical cultural studies and is a past recipient of the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award. The author of several scholarly works on the social and political import of various forms of existential enlightenment, Franklin is also the co-editor of a volume titled Critical Affinities: Reflections on the Convergence between Nietzsche and African American Thought. He holds a doctorate from Stanford University.

Shelley Haley, Professor of Classics and Africana Studies

A.B., Syracuse University; Ph.D., University of Michigan
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Areas of expertise: ancient Africa including ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, Latin pedagogy, Classica Africana, Roman social history focusing on constructs of race, gender and sexuality; black feminist thought; and critical race feminism and African-American women's intellectual history

Shelley Haley is an expert on Cleopatra and has discussed the subject on BBC and The Learning Channel programs. Haley was a distinguished visiting scholar at Washington University-St. Louis and participated in the Oxford Round Table. She has lectured widely on increasing the representation of students of color in Latin, ancient Greek and classics classrooms – and on her research about the role of a classical education in the lives and careers of 19th-century college-educated black women. She was chief reader for the AP Latin Exam and was appointed chair of the exam Development Committee.

Heather Merrill, Professor of Africana Studies

B.A., New York University; M.A., Teachers College Columbia University; M.A., University of Chicago; M.A. and Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
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Areas of expertise: critical human geography; race, place, and belonging in Italy, Black Europe, and the U.S.; gender and intersectionality; African Diasporic politics and identity in Italy; Blackness and anti-blackness

Heather Merrill's research examines place, race, identity and the social transformation of Europe in relation to the African Diaspora. She is a critical human geographer whose theoretical work is grounded in ethnography of African Diaspora in Italy. Merrill is currently completing a book on anti-blackness and Blackness in Italy and the  emergence of Black Spaces. Her book publications are Spaces of Danger: Culture and Power in the Everyday (co-edited), 2015; and An Alliance of Women: Immigration and the Politics of Race. She came to Hamilton College from Dickinson College, where she taught and was executive director of the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues. Merrill completed her doctoral work in human geography at the University of California, Berkeley.

Angel David Nieves, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Co-Director, Digital Humanities Initiative

B. Arch., Syracuse University; M.A., Binghamton University; Ph.D., Cornell University
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Areas of expertise: race and the built environment, digital humanities, spatial humanities, heritage preservation, urban history, South Africa and Southern Africa, truth and reconciliation in post-conflict countries and diaspora studies

Angel David Nieves codirects Hamilton's Digital Humanities Initiative. He completed his doctoral work in architectural history and Africana studies at Cornell University. Nieves coedited the book, ‘We Shall Independent Be:’ African American Place-Making and the Struggle to Claim Space in the U.S., and is associate editor of Fire!!!: A Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, among other work. MSNBC.com and Newsweek have featured his digital research and scholarship. Nieves’ scholarly work and community-based activism engages with issues of memory, heritage preservation, gender and nationalism at the intersections of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South.

Vincent Odamtten, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

B.A. and M.A., University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook
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Areas of expertise: African literature with a focus of Ghanaian and women's literature, 20th-century Caribbean literature, African-American literature, science fiction, literary criticism and use of digital technology in the study of literature

Vincent Odamtten, who earned a doctorate in English from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, specializes in African, Caribbean and African-American literatures. Odamtten published an acclaimed book, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, and has contributed articles to a number of anthologies. He edited Broadening the Horizon: Critical Introductions to Amma Darko, published in England, and published an article "Not Just for Children Anymore: Aidoo's The Eagle and the Chickens and Questions of Identity" in Essays in Honour of Ama Ata Aidoo at 70. Odamtten is researching Togbi Sri II, paramount chief of the Anlo-Ewes of Southeastern Ghana, as part of a multimedia narrative project.

Nigel Westmaas, Associate Professor of Africana Studies

B.A., University of Guyana; M.A. and Ph.D., Binghamton University
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Areas of expertise: history, sociology and Africana studies

Nigel Westmaas has published articles in numerous periodicals, including the Stabroek News, a Guyanese newspaper. Westmaas is co-editor of a UNESCO assisted booklet on a directory of Guyanese periodicals. His research for and contributing co-written article to the Marcus Garvey Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers Caribbean series project was published by the University of California Press. He also published a chapter in Black Power in the Post-Independence Anglophone Caribbean (University Press of Florida, 2014). Other research interests include the history of the newspaper press, pan-Africanism and the rise and impact of political and social movements, mainly in the Anglophone Caribbean. He earned his doctorate from SUNY Binghamton.