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Chinua Akimaro Thelwell

Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History

Office: Blair 354
Email: [[cathelwell]]
Regional Areas of Research: Ancient to Modern Africa, United States
Thematic Areas of Research: African American, Comparative and Transnational, Cultural/Intellectual, Diaspora and Migration, Popular Culture and Media, Race and Ethnicity


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 & Publication
His research focuses on performance as hegemonic and counter-hegemonic race discourse. His first book, an edited collection titled Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World, was published by Routledge in 2016. His second book, a monograph titled Exporting Jim Crow: Blackface Minstrelsy in South Africa and Beyond, was published by University of Massachusetts Press in Spring 2020. His writing appears in The Drama Review, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, Miami Herald, and African American Culture: An Encyclopedia of People, Traditions, and Customs (forthcoming spring 2020).
Course Offerings
AFST 205: Intro to Africana Studies 

APIA 315/Hist 315: Asian Pacific American History

AFST 335: History of Hip-Hop

AFST 399: Research Methodologies in Africana Studies
Dr. Thelwell is the recipient of a distinguished graduate student 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, post-doctoral fellowship from the Ford Foundation, 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 Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World.