CAUSE sponsors an annual Post-Doctoral Fellowship designed to facilitate and sustain a vigorous program of graduate and post-graduate student training, research, and writing on the African American urban experience.
Dr. Halimat Somotan is a scholar of colonial and postcolonial Africa specializing in the histories of cities and urban planning. Her teaching interests include the history of housing, decolonization, and African cities. Her current book project, Decolonizing the City: Popular Politics and the Making of Postcolonial Lagos, examines how ordinary Lagosians experienced and contested Nigeria’s transition from colonial rule to independence. It shows how landlords, tenants, and female traders challenged and sought to reform governmental policies concerning slum clearance, rent control, state land acquisition, and sanitation. The manuscript argues that Lagosians went beyond supporting nationalist movements but consistently pushed for urban reforms under both civilian and military regimes to ensure their longevity in the city and improve urban policies. The research has implications for understanding contemporary megacity urban development and residents’ everyday challenges against displacement.
Somotan’s committed to excavating unknown voices in order to show the competing approaches undertaken by individuals and collectives to create different futures. Therefore, she draws on wide-ranging sources from oral interviews, newspapers, petitions, Yoruba songs, to novels. She’s currently preparing part of her research for publication in historical journals, which will highlight the popular voices that challenged urban displacement in late colonial Lagos.
Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria, Somotan received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2020. Before arriving at CMU, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate/Lecturer at Princeton University, where she co-taught an African Studies course and co-organized the African Urbanism (s) Series. Her research has been funded by organizations such as the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, the University of Virginia, the Council on Library and Information, and the Mellon Foundation.
Scot Brown is an associate professor of History and African American Studies at UCLA. He is the author of the book Fighting For Us as well as numerous articles on activism, music and popular culture. Brown is the also editor of the text, Discourse on Africana Studies. He is completing a book on popular 1970s bands from the funk and soul music hotbed, Dayton, Ohio. Also a musician and songwriter, Brown is working on a number of recording projects: including a collaborative undertaking with poet Kalamu ya Salaam. He has also served as commentator for television music documentaries on TV One, BET/Centric and VH1. Additionally, Brown has appeared in film and TV documentaries on the Civil Rights and Black Power movements -- most recently, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.
Dr. Boddie is a specialist on 20th and early 21st century black social organizations. She works explores the nexus of African American urban life, religion, social policy, and entrepreneurship. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy of Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania. Among her published works is the influential co-edited volume, Faith-Based Social Services: Measures, Assessments, and Effectiveness (Routledge, 2006). In addition to an extensive background of work on community-based projects in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and now Pittsburgh, she will spend her year at the Center researching and writing a book, tentatively titled, Black Religion and the Entrepreneurial Spirit.
Dr. Kwame Holmes received his PhD in 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he specialized in modern U.S., urban, African American and LGBT history. He is currently Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is completing a book manuscript entitled, “Chocolate to Rainbow City: Liberalism and Displacement in the Nation’s Capital, 1953-1999.” This project traces the transformation of Washington, DC from “Chocolate City,” a moniker that once spoke to black Washingtonians demographic, cultural and political dominance to what Holmes calls a Rainbow City—Forbes magazine’s “coolest city in America” for 2014—and a multicultural liberal haven that, not coincidentally, has lost 25% of its black population in the last two decades.
Dr. Hotta was the 2013-2014 postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where she specialized in the comparative history of colonialism and minority issues as well as Afro-Asian relations. She was a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Before joining Carnegie Mellon University, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Hiroshima University of Economics. Chisato spent her time at the center researching and writing her book in progress, Beyond National and Racial Boundaries: Comparative Studies of the Korean Experience in Osaka and the African American Experience in Chicago, 1920-1945.
Dr. Bergeson-Lockwood specializes in United States and African American, urban, political, and legal history. Millington was the CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow for 2012-13. He is currently completing his book manuscript, Union Among Ourselves: Race, Party and Urban Politics in Boston, Massachusetts, 1865-1903. His project focuses on how black men and women forged new understandings of freedom and how they shaped the meaning and terms of American citizenship through urban political activism. In the manuscript, he argues that African Americans formed a public political identity grounded in racial pride and partisanship. By exerting electoral leverage within party structures, black Bostonians hoped to transform national politics and force political parties to focus on African American interests. At the turn of the twentieth century, as mainstream political parties abandoned the interests of African Americans, partisanship was replaced by a stronger sense of racial nationalism influencing the formation of organizations like the Niagara Movement and the NAACP.
Richard Purcell is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He served as our postdoctoral fellow for 2009-10. Professor Purcell spent part of his time at the Center completing research and writing for his first book, Race, Ralph Ellison and American Cold War Intellectual Culture (Palgrave 2013). Richard’s first book is based upon substantial archival research as well as readily accessible published literary sources. His study contributes to our understanding of the heretofore little understood relationship between Ellison, the United States Cold War Central Intelligence Agency, and the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Richard is now exploring the broader intellectual, cultural, and political implications of UNESCO’s expert statement on the “race problem,” first released in 1950 and later revised in 1951 and 1952. Focusing specifically on the largely ignored or forgotten role of Brazilian born anthropologist Arthur Ramos (1903-1949), this study promises to revamp our understanding of the complicated intersections of race, genetics, culture, and politics in global perspective.
Wess Grant (2008-09)
John Wess Grant is the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2008-09, and an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies, The University of Arizona. His publications include, “Stranded Families: Free Colored Responses to Liberian Colonization and the Formation of Black Families in 19th-Century Richmond, Virginia,” in A. Jalloh and T. Falola, ed., The US and West Africa (2008). Dr. Grant is currently at work on his first book, Liberty Revised: The Trans-Atlantic Limitations of Free Black Community Development in Richmond, Virginia and Monrovia, Liberia, 1820-1870.
G. Derek Musgrove, Ph.D. in U.S. History, New York University, is the 2007-8 CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow and an assistant professor of history at the University of the District of Columbia. Prior to working at UDC, Dr. Musgrove worked as an organizer for the Children’s’ Defense Fund and the Graduate Student Organizing Committee of the United Auto Workers, and as a legislative assistant in the office of Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). He is currently working on a manuscript entitledThe Second Redemption: The Repression of Black Elected Officials and Voters in the Post-Civil Rights United States, 1965-2006 which examines “the harassment of black elected officials” and “vote suppression” and their role in the Republican ascendance of the post-civil rights period. Upon completion of this project, he will commence a short study of contemporary Black Nationalist politics by examining the New Black Panther Party and its relationship to the history and living former members of the Black Panther Party.
Lisa Gayle Hazirjian, Ph.D. in history, Duke University, is a visiting assistant professor of history and CAUSE research associate for 2007-08. She was previously a visiting assistant professor of history and SAGES postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University, and brings extensive oral history background as well as public history experience with the Western Reserve Historical Society, and Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. Dr. Hazirjian’s research and teaching reflect lifelong interests in social movements, public policy, and political culture in the modern U.S. She is currently completing her first monograph, Negotiating Poverty: Economic Oppression and Working-Class African American Politics in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, an examination of how material insecurity shaped the long civil rights movement in eastern North Carolina. Additionally, she is editing The War on Poverty and Struggles for Racial & Economic Justice: Views from the Grassroots, a collection of essays that re-evaluate the most controversial piece of the Great Society by exploring how the War on Poverty and grassroots social movements influenced one another.
Luther Adams, Ph.D. in history, University of Pennsylvania, was the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2006-07. He is on leave from the University of Washington-Tacoma, where he is an assistant professor in the department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Science. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled, “Way Up North in Louisville,” which examines African-American migration in Louisville, Kentucky during the era of the Second Great Migration.
Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D. in history, Columbia University, was the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2005-06. She was previously a visiting professor at Trinity College, where she taught in the Department of History and in the American Studies Program. She is currently working on the manuscript for her book, entitled When the World Was Their Stage: A History of the Young Lords Party, 1968-1974. Her research explores the ways in which the structure and economy of the city was transformed in the years following WWII and the consequences of these changes for African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and other urban dwellers.
Angela Winand was the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2004-05; previously she completed an appointment as visiting assistant professor at the Center for Black Diaspora, DePaul University. Dr. Winand also taught at the University of Texas-El Paso, State University of West Georgia, and Spelman College in Atlanta. Based on the lives of selected African American women—including Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Nellie DeSpelder, and Mary Church Terrell—Dr. Winand's research examines the construction of African American, female, southern, and middle class identity during the Jim Crow era. She analyzes "styles of dress" and the ways that middle class black women used consumer culture to influence standards of sexual conduct; she also explores how these women's modes of behavior shaped their social activism.
Robyn Spencer, Ph.D. in U.S. history, Columbia University, was our postdoctoral fellow in 2003-04. Robyn is an assistant professor of African and African American studies and history at Penn State University. Her dissertation, "Repression Breeds Resistance: The Rise and Fall of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA, 1966-1982," documents the experiences of rank and file Panther women. Professor Spencer argues that the Black Panther Party aimed to provide an alternative site for black men and women to challenge the inequities of sexism and patriarchy, and to redefine gender roles. She used her year at the Center to revise her dissertation for publication as her first book.
Lisa Levenstein, Ph.D. in history, University of Wisconsin, was a CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for the 2002-03 academic year. Her fellowship was funded by a grant from the Maurice Falk Fund. Lisa's book in progress, a revised and enlarged version of her Ph.D. dissertation, explores what she calls "the historical construction of racialized urban poverty" by examining the ways that poor women interacted with public institutions like the welfare department, the courts, public housing authorities, and the public hospital. Based upon extensive work in archival sources, Dr. Levenstein shifts the focus of scholarship from men to women and from private sector institutions to public sector services. She convincingly argues that public institutions both "enabled" and "disabled" black women's efforts to deal with urban poverty.
Eric Brown, Ph.D. in sociology, University of California at Berkeley, was a CAUSE postdoctoral fellow in 2001-02 and again in 2002-03. Building upon his Ph.D. dissertation on the late 20th century black professional class, Eric's research explores the impact of class and racial discrimination on the development of the black middle class in Oakland, California. During his stay at the Center, Eric made substantial progress toward transforming his dissertation manuscript into a book. Dr. Brown's book will be among the first to look at the rise of what he calls "the first generation" of black professional people to function within "integrated" labor markets as a result of the modern civil rights movement. Professor Brown's study covers the period since the 1960s and 1970s, and helps us to understand how increasing numbers of African Americans reoriented their aspirations from work in the industrial sector to work in the white collar sector. Equally important, as a local case study, his book pays close attention to the interconnections between work, residence, and political change in the lives of black professional people.
Richard Pierce, University of Notre Dame, was our postdoctoral fellow for the 2000-01 academic year. Professor Pierce conducted research for his manuscript, Negotiated Freedom: African American Community Life in Indianapolis, 1945-1970. In 2005, Indiana University Press published Richard's book under the title, Polite Protest: The Political Economy of Race in Indianapolis, 1929-1970. Richard Pierce, associate professor of history and chair, Department of Africana Studies, University of Notre Dame.
John Hinshaw, associate professor of history, Lebanon Valley College, completed his Ph.D. in history at Carnegie Mellon in 1995. He came to the Center in 1999 following a year abroad as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. His time in South Africa broadened his insights on the interplay of class and race in international perspective. John used his time at the Center to carry out revisions for his book, Steel and Steelworkers: Race and Class Struggle in Twentieth Century Pittsburgh (State University of New York Press, 2002).
Richards Jordan (1998-99)
Yevette Richards Jordan, associate professor of history, George Mason University, spent the 1998-99 academic year at the Center. An assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh at the time, Dr. Richards completed research and revisions for publication of her manuscript, Maida Springer-Kemp: A Biography of an International Labor Leader. The University of Pittsburgh published Yevette's first book under the title Maida Springer: Pan-Africanist and International Labor Leader (2000) and her second book, Conversations with Maida Springer: A Personal History of Labor, Race, and International Relations (2004).
Karen Gibson, assistant professor of public policy and urban affairs, Portland State University, was our first postdoctoral fellow. She completed two years at the Center. Dr. Gibson came to CAUSE after completing her doctorate in city and regional planning at the University of California at Berkeley. She also holds an M.S. degree in public management and policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her dissertation, entitled "A Comparative Analysis of the Effects of Poverty Concentration on White and Black Poor Neighborhoods in the Detroit and Pittsburgh Metropolitan Areas," untangles the effects of race, class, and space, and contributes to our understanding of poverty by widening the analytical lens to include the white and suburban poor.