African and African Disapora Studies Department
African and African Disapora Studies Department
African and African Disapora Studies Department

Are you familiar with Black Studies at UT Austin? How the African and African Diaspora Studies Department relates to UT's larger Black Studies collective? Get the rundown from Black Studies faculty, staff, and students in the following video.


Why is the Gordon-White Building so special? Part art gallery, part policy institute, and all educational and cultural excellence, GWB is home to Black Studies and Latino Studies at UT Austin. Take a virtual tour of this hub for student, faculty, and staff campus life.

AADS Alumni Spotlight Feature  PhD Grad Photo 2019-11-07

The doctoral program in African and African Diasporas Studies at UT Austin was launched in 2012 with an inaugural cohort of 5 students. To date, 11 Ph.D. students have graduated (including all 5 members of the original cohort). Eight of these graduates have gone on thus far to enter the professorate, pursuing research and teaching interests including Black Feminisms, Anti-Black Capitalism, Critical Race Theory, Black Activism and Mobilization, Afro-Brazilian Studies, Tourism and the Commodification of the Black Body, Immigration, Black Performance Aesthetics, Black Queer Theory, and LGBTQ Cultures in the Black US South. AADS’s faculty and staff are proud of these graduates’ accomplishments and of the intellectual, artistic, and political commitments that characterized their work in the department and that which they are pursuing today.

Spotlights on two of our recent doctoral graduates are below.

Paul Joseph López Oro

Dr. Paul Joseph López Oro (graduated Summer 2020)

Dr. López Oro is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Smith College.

Scholarly interests: Black politics in Latin America, the Caribbean and U.S. AfroLatinidades, Black Latinx LGBTQ movements and performances, and Black transnationalism.

López Oro feels “forever indebted” to UT’s African and African Diaspora Studies Department, whose theoretical training on Black queer feminist diaspora theories “will continue to inform my research, pedagogy, methodology, and future research and teaching agendas.

I began my PhD journey at UT in the fall of 2014 as part of the second cohort of the newly inaugurated PhD program in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. I came to work with activist-scholars whose several decades long work with Black Central American communities, specifically Garifuna and Creole folks in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua had mentored a generation of scholars who had furthered our understandings on Black political mobilizations and Black feminisms on Central America's Caribbean Coasts. Without any exaggeration, there was no other better intellectual community to do my dissertation research and engagement with Black Central American politics, cultures, and histories. It was here at UT-Austin's Department of African & African Diaspora Studies that I began to witness the evolution in my thinking, questions, and ultimately the central themes of my dissertation projects.

Angelica Allen

Dr. Angelica Allen (graduated Summer 2020)

Dr. Allen is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Chapman University, where she co-directs the university’s Africana Studies minor.

Scholarly interests: Black Diaspora Studies, the Black Pacific, the Afro-Asian Diaspora, Philippine Afro-Amerasians, Black indigenous communities in the Philippines, and visual studies.

For Allen, Black Studies at UT helped her “foster a global understanding of the lived-experiences of African descendants.

My dissertation project, “Afro-Amerasians: Blackness in the Philippine Imaginary,” is a critical ethnography which focuses on the lived experiences of a community in the Philippines known as the “Black Amerasians.” These are the children born from the union of African American military men and Filipina women. My work is very much informed by my personal experience of growing up in the Philippines. I am both a member of, and a scholar to this community’s experiences. AADS … provid[ed] an education that centers Black feminist theory as an intellectual, personal, and an activist project. I would not be where I am if it weren’t for AADS and their support of my scholarship.


Omi Osun Joni L. Jones

Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Professor Emerita of African and African Diaspora Studies

Dr. Omi Jones, who taught at The University of Texas for 29 years, serving as Associate Director of the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies for 6 years and as Center Director for 3 years, retired from the University in August 2019. Her indelible impact on Black Studies is difficult to overstate.

Dr. Jones has served as AADS’s Doctoral Portfolio Program coordinator and spearheaded the department’s groundbreaking study abroad and domestic study programs in Ghana, West Africa; Los Angeles; and San Francisco. Having chaired or co-chaired more than 20 dissertation committees and 20 more Master’s theses, and having served as a member on nearly an additional 100 dissertation and Master’s committees, the scope and extent of Dr. Jones’simpact on emerging and current scholars and artists, as well as on the field of Black Studies generally, is immeasurable.

Her retirement truly marks the end of an epochal era in Black Studies, but her new appointment as Professor Emerita of AADS helps ensure that her institutional legacy endures. In this role, Dr. Jones retains her membership in the department’s Graduate Studies Committee and a listing in AADS’s (and UT’s) faculty directory.

Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Visiting Performing Artist Residency

The Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Visiting Performing Artist Residency

Equally exciting is AADS’s renaming of our Performing Blackness Series, which was created by Dr. Jones, in her honor. The Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Visiting Performing Artist Residency celebrates blackness by making a space for black artists to work, create, and reflect on black life and culture. This residency serves as a space for artists to share their work, share their wisdom, and pause long enough to create new work in community with students, faculty, staff, and community members—not necessarily in that order.

On May 3rd, 2019, AADS launched a fundraising campaign to create an endowment to support this residency: the Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Endowed Excellence Fund. Endowments leave a legacy that lasts forever. With up to $12,500 in matching funds from the department, this excellence fund requires only an additional $12,500 to be established—but let’s not stop there! The more funds we raise, the more artists we support, the more access we create for students, faculty, staff, and community to their craft.

Please consider donating today!

Cherise Smith

Chair & Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies

Cherise Smith
You can invest in the Department as well as Black Studies and provide opportunities for students and faculty, either through planned giving or outright gifts.
  • African and African Diaspora Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
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