Schomburg Center’s Scholars-in-Residence Program Announces 2021-2022 Fellows

JULY 13, 2021—The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is pleased to announce its 38th class of Fellows: 12 exceptionally talented academics, writers, visual artists, and independent scholars. 

“After a year of unprecedented challenges, as the Schomburg moves prudently toward reopening its full range of resources and programs to the public, we are thrilled to welcome this new class of Fellows,” said Brent Hayes Edwards, the Director of the Scholars-in-Residence Program and the Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. 

During the 2021-22 term, which runs from September to July, the cohort of Scholars-in-Residence Fellows will have access to the renowned research collections and resources of the Schomburg Center, the pre-eminent repository for materials related to the history and cultures of peoples of African descent, as well as the expertise and assistance of its curatorial and reference staff. Fellows also have access to the full range of books, periodicals, and archival collections in the New York Public Library research system. Scholars-in-Residence Fellows receive a stipend and the use of a private office in the Scholars Center, located at the heart of the Schomburg Center’s complex of buildings at 135th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem.

The 2021-22 Scholars-in-Residence Program will include seven long-term fellows who will be in residence at the Schomburg for either one semester or the full year. The new group will be pursuing a strikingly broad array of topics, from a history of Black nursing in New York, to a study of the underground publishing networks nurtured by anti-Apartheid activists in South Africa, to a project on the cultural influence of Afro-Cuban rumba throughout the African diaspora: 

  • Laila Amine (Associate Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Return Travel: The African Diaspora Across Genres of Mobility”

  • Marina Bilbija (Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies, Wesleyan University), “Worlds of Color: Black Print Internationalism Before Decolonization”

  • Abosede George (Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, Barnard College), “Migrating while Black in the Nineteenth Century Atlantic” 

  • Brian Kwoba (Assistant Professor of History, University of Memphis), “Hubert Harrison: Forbidden Legacy of Black Genius”

  • Petra Richterová (Assistant Professor of Art History, Savannah College of Art and Design), “Rumba: A Philosophy of Motion”

  • Stéphane Robolin (Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick), “Subterranean Circulations: The Making of Apartheid’s Literary Underground”

  • Mercy Romero (Associate Professor of American Studies, Sonoma State University), “Farewell: Black Nursing and the East River Islands, 1950-2020”

In addition to its flagship long-term Scholars-in-Residence Program, the Schomburg Scholars Center now hosts fellows through multiple residencies. In 2017, the Scholars-in-Residence Program inaugurated a short-term fellowship, which provides periods in residence between one and three months and is open to creative writers as well as academics and independent scholars. The 2021-22 short-term fellows include a visual artist whose work “remaps” the history of public housing in New York, and a poet working on a series inspired by the paintings of Beauford Delany: 

  • Alexis Callender (Assistant Professor of Art, Smith College), “Housing, High Modernism, and the Architecture of Racial Imagination”

  • Gail Dottin (independent scholar), “Where There Is Pride in Belonging: A Memoir in Family Stories”

  • Naomi Jackson (Assistant Professor of English, Rutgers University-Newark), “Behind God’s Back: A Novel”

  • Arlene Keizer (Professor of Humanities and Media Studies, Pratt Institute), “Fraternal Light: On Painting While Black”

 Through a collaboration with the CUNY Graduate Center, the Schomburg Scholars-in-Residence Program also sponsors Dissertation Fellows who are completing a dissertation in a department there: 

  • Nina Mercer (Ph.D candidate, Theatre and Performance, CUNY Graduate Center), “Transnational Ritual Poetics of Blackness in Performance”

  • Jessica Larson, (Ph.D candidate, Art History, CUNY Graduate Center), “Building Black Manhattan: Architecture, Art, and the Politics of Respectability, 1857-1914” [Non-Resident Fellow]

Finally, the Scholars-in-Residence Program also hosts the postdoctoral fellows funded by the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery: 

  • Sean Morey Smith (Postdoctoral Researcher, Rice University), “The Climate of Race in Abolition” [Long-Term Lapidus Fellow]

  • Lucy Sheehan (Assistant Professor of English, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi), “Willing Slavery: The Victorian Novel and British Enslavement” [Short-Term Lapidus Fellow]

  • Dennis Tyler (Assistant Professor of English, Fordham University), “In the Skins of Our Ancestors” [Short-Term Lapidus Fellow]

  • Mike Jirik (Lecturer, Department of History, University of Massachusetts-Amherst), “Abolition and Academe: Struggles for Freedom and Equality at British and American Colleges, 1741-1855” [Short-Term Lapidus Fellow]

 Since its establishment in 1983, the Schomburg Scholars-in-Residence Program has provided support to more than 236 scholars and writers, cementing its reputation as the premier residential research fellowship in the country for the fields of African American, African Diaspora, and African studies. 

 For more information about the Scholars-in-Residence Program, visit


Media Contact:  Amy Geduldig,

About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the preservation, research, interpretation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diasporan, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections totaling over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture. Learn more at

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