John L Warfield Center

Graduate Students

Gustavo Melo Cerqueira

Gustavo Melo Cerqueira 

Gustavo Melo Cerqueira is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. He is also an actor, performer, director, producer, and playwright with relevant trajectory in Brazilian black theater. His research examines how the onstage and offstage performances of the black body complicate the political-aesthetic deployment of notions of racial and cultural identities, visibility, and representation in the work of Brazilian black theater group Cia dos Comuns. Gustavo holds an undergraduate degree in Law from Federal University of Bahia (Brazil), and a Master’s degree in African and African Diaspora Studies from the University of Texas, Austin.

Research Interests: Black Body; Black Theater in Brazil; Black Performance; Politics and Aesthetics of Blackness.

Jessi Ditillio

Jessi DiTillio

Jessi DiTillio is a doctoral student in the Department of Art and Art History. Her research focuses on American artists after 1945 with an emphasis on artists engaging the politics of race and gender, postmodernism and the politics of identity, parody and satire. She is currently the Mercer Curatorial Fellow at the Contemporary Austin as well as assisting with the Warfield Center's exhibitions program and permanent collection installations. Until beginning the doctoral program at UT Austin, she served as Interim Director of the Association for Academic Museums and Galleries. Prior to that, she worked for several years as the Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at University of Oregon. While there she curated the traveling exhibition Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power, which opened most recently at the David C. Driskell Center at University of Maryland in February 2015 and will continue traveling until 2017.

Kim Grant

Kimberli Gant

Kimberli Gant is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Texas Austin. Her dissertation examines photographic depictions of Lagos, Nigeria, through the theme of roads, by contemporary Nigerian photographers Akinbode Akinbiyi and Otobong Nkanga. Kimberli holds a MA in Art History from Columbia University (2009) and a BA in Art History from Pitzer College (2002). She is currently the Mellon Predoctoral Fellow at the Newark Museum of Art in Newark, NJ  held a previous fellowship position at The Contemporary Austin and is former Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, NY. She has curated exhibitions for the Warfield Center of African and African American Studies at UT and is published in edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, and art magazines.


Paul Joseph López Oro

Paul Joseph López Oro is a doctoral student in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. His dissertation project examines second and third generation Garifuna Central Americans in New York City and how they negotiate in the in-betweeness of their Blackness, Indigeneity, and Latinidad. He holds an undergraduate degree in History from St. John's University, master's degrees in Latin American Studies from The University of New Mexico, and in African American Studies from Northwestern University. 

Research interests: Blackness and Indigeneity in Central America, Garifuna activism, political mobilization, transnational migration, and Afro-Latin@ Studies.


Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani

Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation project explores the work of abstract artists working in England between 1950-1970, specifically Anwar Jalal Shemza and Ahmed Parvez, members of the Lahore Art Circle; Frank Bowling; Aubrey Williams, a founder of the Caribbean Artists Movement; and New Vision Centre Gallery, founded by Denis Bowen, Frank Avray Wilson, Kenneth Coutts-Smith, and Halima Nalecz. Ohadi-Hamadani holds an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University, and has worked on several curatorial projects, including exhibition Afro Modern: Journeys Through the Black Atlantic (Tate Liverpool, 2009).   

Research Interests: canon formation, hierarchies of art, diasporas and immigrant communities 


Chinwe Oriji

Chinwe Oriji is a McNair Fellow and currently a PhD Student in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She recently completed her MPhil in Modern Societies and Global Transformations at Cambridge University and is focused on a doctoral dissertation examining notions of displacement and belonging and historical memory for children of African immigrants and the implications of multiple identities for African and American development. She is also the founder of the Unispora.Com diaspora website created to share cultural narratives of immigrants and children of immigrants globally.

Research Interests: African Migration, Children of Immigrants, African Diaspora, Transnationalism, Contemporary African Literature