Margo Natalie Crawford Is Appointed Director of the Center for Africana Studies
Margo Natalie Crawford, Professor of English, has been appointed Director of the Center for Africana Studies in Penn Arts & Sciences. Crawford specializes in 20th- and 21st-century African American literature, cultural movements, and visual art. She studies radical black imaginations and the global dimensions of black aesthetics. The avant-garde, experimental flows of black women artists are the energizing force of her scholarship.
Crawford is the author of Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics and Dilution Anxiety and the Black Phallus. She is coeditor of Global Black Consciousness and New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement, and her essays appear in a wide range of books and journals. Her current project, What is African American Literature?, is a reconsideration of the role of textual production, diasporic tensions, and affect in the shaping of the “idea” of African American literature. She is also completing New Genealogies of Black Abstraction.
Crawford received her doctorate in Yale University’s American Studies program. She was previously Professor of English at Cornell, where she directed the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Program. She succeeds Camille Z. Charles, Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies, and Education, who directed the center from 2009 until this year.
The faculty of the Center for Africana Studies represent the majority of the University of Pennsylvania’s 12 schools and a broad range of disciplines, interests and regions of study. The Center has an extensive commitment to research and hosts numerous programs of regional, national, and international significance throughout the year for the Penn and surrounding communities.
The Center for Africana Studies was founded in 2002 through the merger of the Afro-American Studies Program and the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture. In 2015, the Center merged with Penn’s Africa Center, significantly increasing the number of faculty and activities.
Crawford aims to build on the great momentum the Center currently has. She states, “The Center for Africana Studies is Global Black Studies in motion. Our programming puts the spotlight on the intersections of the humanities and the social sciences, and the intersections of the local and the global. We honor dynamic scholarship that produces dynamic public engagement. The Center is a crucial site of convergence for scholars, artists, political leaders, public intellectuals, undergraduates, graduate students, and cultural workers in the communities surrounding Penn.”