AMHERST, Mass. – Historian Robin D.G. Kelley, award-winning African-American scholar and 2013 history department writer-in-residence at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will speak Tuesday, March 5 in the Student Union’s Cape Cod Lounge beginning at 4 p.m.
Kelley’s talk is titled “The Long Rise and Short Decline of American Democracy.”
The author of seven books on urban American culture, including “Yo Mama’s Disfunktional: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America,” “Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original” and “Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class,” Kelley is Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA. During the 2009-10 academic year, he held the Harmsworth Chair of American History at Oxford University, the first African-American historian to do so since the chair was established in 1922.
Although trained as an American historian, Kelley’s research and teaching interests range widely, covering the history of labor and radical movements in the U.S., the African Diaspora, and Africa; intellectual and cultural history (particularly music and visual culture); urban studies, and transnational movements. He received a master’s degree in African history and doctorate in U.S. history, both at UCLA.
His magazine articles have been featured in The Nation, Monthly Review, The Voice Literary Supplement, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Code Magazine, Utne Reader and African Studies Review.
“I didn’t study history to be a historian,” Kelley told Missouri Review in a 2003 interview. “I studied history to attempt to solve a series of political problems. When I was an undergraduate, I chose history as a discipline that would allow me to look at social movements in the most holistic way. I studied political science and was a political science major, I was a philosophy major, but I was interested in social movements.”
Kelley will also speak at Amherst College on Wednesday, March 6 at 4:30 p.m. in the Paino Lecture Hall, Beneski Museum of Natural History, on journalist Grace Halsell (1923-2000) and her experiments in racial and cultural crossing. She is known for having lived temporarily as a black woman, a Navajo, a Mexican migrant, and a Christian fundamentalist pilgrim in Israel, in order to understand white supremacy and U.S. imperial policies.