Dr. Chinua Akimaro Thelwell received his PhD from the American Studies Program at New York University in 2011. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, and moments of experiential learning outside of classroom settings, Thelwell has developed a wide range of teaching and research interests. These interests include: Afro-diasporic history, history of the idea of race, blackface minstrelsy as a popular culture export, performance studies, post-colonial hybridity theory, Asian American history, and hip-hop studies.
Research & PublicationHe is currently working on two book manuscripts. The first is an adaptation of his dissertation which offers an in depth history of blackface minstrelsy in South Africa. In this project, Thelwell analyzes blackface minstrelsy as a popular culture export to South Africa, and the ways in which race discourses that originated from the United States were used to provide discursive support for racial hierarchies in South Africa. The second book project is an edited collection on the history and legacy of the New WORLD Theater, an experimental theater that was housed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1979 to 2009. His writing has appeared in The Drama Review,and Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies.
AwardsDr. Thelwell is the recipient of a distinguished teaching award from New York University, an Emerging Diversity Scholar Award from the National Center for Institutional Diversity at University of Michigan, a pre-doctoral fellowship from Allegheny College, and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Mellon Foundation. In 2011, Dr. Thelwell and a number of collaborators, most notably the Hemispheric Institute at NYU, received a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation to begin work on the New WORLD Theater book project.