John L Warfield Center

Black Studies at UT

Black Studies at The University of Texas at Austin   is a collective endeavor like no other Black Studies initiative in the country. With a history rooted in activism, the group draws its strength from four distinct yet aligned campus units – the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis, and the Art Galleries at Black Studies.  Through cutting-edge policy research, thought-provoking scholarship, and robust arts and cultural programming, Black Studies at UT is a premier research and education destination for students, faculty, visiting scholars, and the community at large. Compelling research, programming, and scholarly pursuits  are happening  every day in Black Studies at UT Austin.


The mission of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA) is to conduct, organize, promote, and support the production of relevant policy research and analysis related to urban issues. The Institute's staff, academic fellows, and graduate students generate publication, reports, briefs, and grants and contracts with the aim of shaping policy to enhance the lives of African American and other people of color in the state of Texas. Dr.  Dr. Kevin Cokley is Director of the institute as well as Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology at UT Austin. His research interests include the construction of racial and ethnic identities, Afrocentric psychology, academic motivation, academic self-concept, and understanding the psychological and environmental factors that impact African American student achievement. He is a 2019 inductee into UT Austin's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, a 2018 inductee into the UT System's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, recipient of the 2014 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, winner of the 2009 Charles and Shirley Thomas Award for mentoring ethinc minority students by the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, one of ten 2008 Rising Stars of the Academy recognized by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, as well as recipient of the 2007 Association of Black Psychologists’ Scholarship Award and a 2004 co-recipient of the Emerging Professional Award given by the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues of the American Psychological Association.

The African and African Diaspora Studies Department (AADS) promotes activist academics and is dedicated to the study of the intellectual, political, artistic, and social experiences of people of African descent throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, including the United States. In this endeavor, it works in concert with The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies (WCAAAS) and the Institute for Urban Policy and Research Analysis (IUPRA).  Dr. Cherise Smith is Chair of this department, as well as Associate Professor of Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. Her teaching and research interests include American art after 1945, especially as it intersects with the politics of identity, race, and gender. Her first book, Enacting Others: Politics of Identity in Eleanor Antin, Nikki S. Lee, Adrian Piper, and Anna Deavere Smith (Duke University Press, 2011), examines how identity is negotiated in performance art in which women artists take-on the characteristics and manners of a racial, ethnic, and gender “other”. Michael Ray Charles (UT Press, 2019), her second book, is a retrospective on the renowned visual artist's work and creative process. Her articles have appeared in Art Journal , African Arts , and exposure, among other venues. She was awarded the Getty Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Research Fellowship at W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Research at Harvard University. She has worked in the curatorial departments of the Art Institute of Chicago, the De Young Museum, and the Saint Louis Art Museum among others institutions.

The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies (WCAAAS) has been a focal point for campus and community life around the cultural, sociopolitical, artistic, economic, and historical experiences of Africans and their descendents.  Named for Center director Dr. John Lewis Warfield (1973-1986), himself an innovative scholar, respected teacher and community activist, the Warfield Center maintains "Doc's" commitment to an engaged academic life. In collaboration with other university departments, centers, and schools, WCAAAS offers research opportunities and programming across a broad variety of disciplines focused on Black people in Texas, the United States, and the African Diaspora including: Africa; North, South, and Central America; the Caribbean; and Europe. Dr. Minkah Makalani is Director of the center, as well as Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin. His teaching and research interests include  intellectual history, black political thought, radical social movements, Caribbean independence, Black Power, race and racial identity, and hip-hop. His first book, In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939 (University of North Carolina Press, 2011) , examines the black radical encounter within organized Marxism among early twentieth century Caribbean radicals in Harlem and London, and considers how these activist-intellectuals drew on their experiences of racial oppression, colonial domination, and diasporic interactions prompted their independent political organizing and informed their engagement with western radical thought to articulate a black internationalist politics. He is also co-editor of Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (University Press of Minnesota, 2013) , with Davarian Baldwin. His articles have appeared in Small Axe , Social Text , South Atlantic Quarterly , Souls , The Journal of African American History , and Women, Gender, and Families of Color .

AGBS (The Art Galleries at Black Studies at The University of Texas) is a platform from which to unpack timely social issues, through the arts. From exhibitions celebrating contemporary creative expression, to displays of archives and material culture, AGBS is the sole on-campus entity dedicated to showcasing narratives of Africa and the African Diaspora. Comprised of two galleries—The Christian-Green Gallery and the Idea Lab—AGBS spaces are premiere destinations for anyone who seeks to connect with narratives that affect us all. Lise Ragbir, Director of the galleries, brings over fifteen years of cultural management experience to AGBS. The journey has taken her from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, to the United Nations, to a Swiss corporate collection, to one of the most notable collections of public art in the state of Texas. From her work as a grant-maker with private foundations, to her work with museums and community-based cultural organizations, her experience spans public, private, for-profit and non-profit cultural initiatives. She holds a BFA in Art History and Studio Art from Concordia University in Montreal, and completed her graduate work in Museum Studies at Harvard University. Her essays about race, identity, immigration and cultural representation have appeared in the Guardian, Time Magazine, USA Today and Hyperallergic, among other publications.

  • John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies

    The University of Texas at Austin
    210 W 24th St.
    Mailcode D7200
    Austin, Texas, 78705