Christina Sharpe, leading scholar in Black Diaspora Studies, joins Black Studies program at York University

Christina SharpeProfessor Christina Sharpe, one of the most important contemporary scholars in Black Diaspora Thought and Cultures, has joined the Department of Humanities in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University.

Sharpe’s research in Black visual and performance arts, Black literatures and cultures, Black feminist theories and queer studies is widely recognized and lauded across North America and Europe. Her two books—Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (Duke UP, 2010) and In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke UP, 2016)—have solidified her place as a leading thinker in her field. In the Wake, in particular, has been vastly influential in broadening and deepening interdisciplinary understandings of diaspora. It was nominated for a 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and named one of the best books of 2016 in The Guardian Newspaper and The Walrus.

“I’m really excited to come to York University to work with a range of students who come from diverse communities and are explicitly interested in Black Studies,” Sharpe explained in a recent meeting with graduate students.

Sharpe’s hire coincides with the launch of the new Black Canadian Studies Certificate in Humanities. As a full professor and faculty member within the Certificate program, Sharpe will provide leadership in engaging with Black Canadian intellectuals, artists, and community groups in Toronto and across Canada; leveraging and expanding pan-university research partnerships; and increasing valuable opportunities for graduate and undergraduate training and mentorship.

Sam Tecle, a PhD candidate in Black Cultural Studies identifies Sharpe’s hire as significant and timely: “This hire is much more meaningful than a simple position in the professoriate. It will help develop and foster a new and burgeoning Black Studies community at York that has been a long time coming.”

Andrea Davis, Chair of the Department of Humanities and coordinator of the Certificate, agrees: “To welcome Christina to York as we establish the certificate in Black Canadian Studies marks an important moment in the advancement of scholarship in Black Studies—both with a focus on Black Canada and in relation to the US and the rest of the world.”

The Certificate’s location in the humanities is also significant. “I think the study of Black Canada from a Humanities perspective is really important,” Sharpe said, “because the humanities offer up multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary ways of reading and thinking about Black Canadians that bring us into life in a different kind of way.”

In addition, Sharpe’s interdisciplinary engagement of the relations of power and the afterlives of slavery through questions of residence time, weather and soil will be a catalyst for opening up new avenues of investigation between the humanities and other disciplines, including environmental studies, geography, and earth and ocean sciences.

Thinking along with and expanding the reach of the foremost thinkers in Black scholarship in Canada and the US—including Katherine McKittrick, Saidiya Hartman, Sylvia Wynter and Rinaldo Walcott—Sharpe’s work expands and enriches contributions to Black Diaspora thought and its application to diverse fields and the contemporary world.

Sharpe comes to York from Tufts University where she taught in the Departments of English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and was the former director of American Studies.