Bridging Disciplinary Divides in African and Diaspora Studies

Workgroup Description
The African and Diaspora Studies working group brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to foster visibility, support, and critical inquiry on Africa and its Diaspora at the UC Merced campus. Our inaugural aims are two-fold: 1) to support research efforts through scholarly exchange; 2) to promote community through collaboration and campus outreach. Toward these aims, the working group will run as a seminar that will provide participants the opportunity to workshop works-in-progress, as well as to read and discuss scholarly developments of shared interest. 

Given the breadth of scholarly disciplines represented among participants, the seminar will be themed around interrogating disciplinary boundaries in the production of knowledge about Africa and its Diaspora. Select guest lectures from outside scholars will facilitate shared inquiry into key areas of multidisciplinary intersection in fields such as medical humanities, science and technology studies, and environmental studies.

Programs Represented: 
Biological Engineering, Environmental Systems, Global Arts Studies, Social Sciences, World Cultures

Primary Contact: 
Omotayo Jolaosho

Spring 2014 Calendar of Events:

Workgroup Members:

Samuel Negusse Araya
Graduate Student
Environmental Systems


  • Effect of fire on soil physical and chemical properties
  • The effect of combustion temperature on physical stabilization of soil organic matter

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences


  • Interactive effects of fire and erosion on soil organic matter dynamics

  • Effect of changes in climate on mechanisms of soil organic mater stabilization and destabilization

  • Role of soil erosion on terrestrial carbon sequestration

  • Political ecology of land ownership and control, effect of armed conflicts on land degradation

Kevin Dawson
Assistant Professor, History

He considers how members of the African diaspora recreated aspects of their African heritage in the Americas. He has conducted field and archival research in West Africa, Barbados and throughout the United States. His topics of expertise include:

  • Atlantic History
  • Early American History
  • African Diaspora
  Tiffany Gleason 
Lecturer, History


Teamrat Ghezzehei
Assistant Professor, Environmental Soil Physics

His research interest is in the movement and transformation of mass and energy in porous media at a fundamental level, as well as their application to environmental- and energy-related problems. The scale of his interest ranges from sub-pore scale dynamics of water-gas interfaces to water flow and solute transport at scales of tens of meters. The scope of his research includes laboratory and field experiments, theory, and computational modeling.

Nigel Hatton
Assistant Professor, Literature

Research Interests:

  • Nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and African American literature and culture
  • Transnational American studies
  • Literature and philosophy
  • Søren Kierkegaard
  • Global human rights

Eli Jelly-Schapiro
Postodctoral Fellow, Center for the Humanities

He seeks to embed the cultural and political forms of the War on Terror within the long history of modernity, through readings of contemporary fiction and theory. He considers conceptual paradigms such as “security,” “terror,” and “emergency” from the perspective of the global South, with an attention to how modernity is constituted by the so-called periphery of the world system. 

Omotayo Jolasho
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Humanities

She is analyzing more than 80 hours of video footage and song recordings collected in South Africa. She works on disruptive performances that generate new modes of collective solidarity and social identity.  


Christina Lux
Assistant Director, Center for the Humanities

She works on sub-Saharan African and Caribbean literature; multilingual writers; peace and conflict; and migration.

Anley Tefera 
Graduate Student, Biological Engineering and Small-Scale Technologies

He is studying the development of a cell stretching device for cardiac cells and tissue maturation and preservation.