Battle-Baptiste Named New Director of W.E.B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst

Whitney Battle-Baptiste

AMHERST, Mass. – Whitney Battle-Baptiste, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been appointed director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at the UMass Amherst Libraries.

Battle-Baptiste is a historical archaeologist who focuses on the intersection of race, class and gender in the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African diaspora. Her theoretical interests include black feminist theory, African-American material and expressive culture and critical heritage studies. Her work includes historic sites as varied as the home of Andrew Jackson in Nashville, Tenn., Rich Neck Plantation in Williamsburg, Va., the Abiel Smith School in Boston, the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite in Great Barrington, Mass. and the Millars Plantation on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera.

“I am extremely pleased that Dr. Battle-Baptiste has agreed to assume leadership of the Libraries’ W.E.B. Du Bois Center,” says Jay Schafer, director of the UMass Amherst Libraries. “Her scholarship and commitment to social change are an excellent match for the center’s mission and her enthusiasm for the role promises to increase the visibility and impact the center has in promoting the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois.”

Battle-Baptiste earned a bachelor’s in history/secondary education from Virginia State University, a master’s in history from the College of William & Mary, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of “Black Feminist Archaeology” (Left Coast Press, 2011) and is working on “Rules of Engagement: Community-Based Archaeology as a Tool for Social Justice” (Left Coast Press).

The W.E.B. Du Bois Center at the UMass Amherst Libraries was established in 2009 to engage the nation and the world in discussion and scholarship about the global issues involving race, labor and social justice. The center presents an interdisciplinary approach to the intersections among African-American culture and history, social justice and labor relations which opens this research to new insights and evaluation in light of the issues confronting people throughout the world today.

By making its resources readily available and accessible to the public, the center holds fast to the scholarly tradition and spirit of its namesake, W.E.B. Du Bois, a Massachusetts native son, who was pivotal to the social and political debates on race, class and culture of the 20th century. The center continues this tradition through its fellows program, the W.E.B. Du Bois Papers and subsequent scholarship, educational outreach, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite, of which UMass Amherst is the steward.