Deborah A. Thomas has been awarded the R. Jean
Brownlee Term Chair, which acknowledges her distinguished scholarship and
outstanding service to the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program, the
Department of Anthropology, and the School of Arts and Sciences. Alongside
these appointments, Dr. Thomas is a member of the Steering Committee for the
Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program and Alice Paul Center. Thomas'
research interests include nationalism and alternative sovereignties,
globalization, race and gender, labor migration, transnationalism and diaspora,
cultural politics, performance, violence and the transformation of space,
culture and political economy, popular culture and the Caribbean. Recent
publications include Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and
the Politics of Culture in Jamaica; Globalization and Race:
Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness; Blackness
Across Borders; The Violence of Diaspora; and Exceptional
Violence: Embodied Citizenship in the Transnational Jamaica. Dr. Thomas’
scholarship, both inside and outside of the classroom, has centered on the intersections
of race and gender as key conceptual and grounded frameworks through which to
understand the world.
R. Jean Brownlee Endowed Term Professorship honors the memory of Dr. R
Jean Brownlee whose long service to the Philadelphia community included serving
as a Trustee of the McLean Contributorship, "directress" (as the term then went) of Sergeant
Hall, Penn’s undergraduate women's residence on 34th Street, Dean of the
College of Women, and chief local administrator for the Civil Service
Commission - the highest post held by a woman in the entire city at that point.
She also taught at all levels in
Philadelphia, from kindergarten to high school, and at the college level at
Temple. Brownlee earned her doctorate from Penn in political science in 1942.
Among Dr. Brownlee's many awards were the 1963 Alumna Award of Merit from Penn,
the 1972 Distinguished Alumna Award of Friends' Select, the Governor's
designation as Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in the bicentennial year
of 1976, and the honorary doctorate of laws here in 1986.