Skip navigation
University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

Karen Y. Morrison, "Kym", Assistant Professor

326 New Africa House


Office Hours:


Brief Bio

Karen Y. Morrison, “Kym,” is a social historian of the African diaspora. Her research explores the interactions between global and local racial-formation processes as they relate to African descendent people and communities. Before turning to an academic career, she earned a degree in electrical engineering at Duke University and then worked for a few years in military weapons systems development. A realization that advanced technical training often lacked a connection to social justice and social ethics prompted her career shift. She now teaches so as to inspire college students to have positive views on diversity and social difference., She has published in Cuban Studies/ Estudios Cubanos, the Journal of Social History, Abolition & Slavery, the Encyclopedia of the Modern World, and in the recent anthology, Africans to Spanish America. Her first book, Cuba’s Racial Crucible: The Sexual Economy of Social Identities, 1750-2000 (2015) appears within the Blacks in the Diaspora Series from Indiana University Press. She will be a Fulbright Research Scholar in Brazil for the 2015-2016 academic year. There Professor Morrison will begin a second monograph project, which explores the connections between black pride, racial hybridity, and whitening in post-abolition Rio de Janeiro.


A Crucible of Race: Family and Social Identity in 19th and 20th-Century Cuba, (Indiana University Press, 2015):


“‘Whitening’ Revisited: Cuban Counterpoints,” chapter, in Sherwin Bryant, Rachel O’Toole, and Ben Vinson, eds., The African Diaspora into Latin America: New Directions in Scholarship, University of Illinois Press, forthcoming August 2011.


 “White Fathers and Slave Mothers in Nineteenth-Century Cuba Defining Family and Social Status,” Slavery & Abolition 31 (March 2010): 29-55.


“Cuba: Overview” in Peter N. Stearns, ed. Encyclopedia of the Modern World. Oxford University Press, 2008, a 3,000-words entry.


“Creating an Alternative Kinship: Slavery, Freedom, and Nineteenth-Century Afro-Cuban Hijos NaturalesJournal of Social History (September 2007): 55-80


“Civilization and Citizenship in the Eyes of Afro-Cuban Intellectuals during the First Constitutional Period (1902-1940)” Cuban Studies/ Estudios Cubanos v. 30 (1999): 76-99.