Mustakeem, who was the first African and African-American Studies graduate at Elon and now serves as an associate professor of history and African and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, will deliver an address during a March 9 luncheon in McKinnon Hall.
Award-winning author Sowande Mustakeem ’00 will visit Elon on March 9 as the campus commemorates the 25th anniversary of the African & African-American Studies program.
Her address “From the Slave Ship to the Carceral State: Black Bodies, African American Studies, and the Making of a Diasporic Future,” will be part of a luncheon designed to mark the importance of African and African American Studies in the arts and sciences and across disciplines at Elon.
“African and African-American Studies is an incubator of Black thought, social justice, leadership development and, above all else, safety,” says Buffie Longmire-Avital, program coordinator for African & African-American Studies at Elon. “To be a student and/or scholar of African and African-American Studies at Elon and beyond is to audaciously resist an imposed narrative that all too often defines the value of Blackness as only relevant in comparison to something else.”
Elon first offered a black studies course in 1979, which eventually led to the creation of African & African-American Studies as an independent minor in 1994. The program became an interdisciplinary minor in 2000, with Mustakeem being the first graduate to create her own independent major around the program.
Mustakeem earned a master’s degree in African-American and African studies from The Ohio State University in 2002 and a doctorate degree in comparative black history from Michigan State University in 2008. She subsequently received a two-year Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in history and a jointly appointed tenure-track position in history and African and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where she serves as an associate professor.
A prolific scholar, Mustakeem’s book, “Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage,” centers around the often-forgotten world of 18th century slave ships. Published in 2016 by University of Illinois Press, the book has received much acclaimed, winning the Wesley-Logan Prize by the American Historical Association in 2017, which is awarded to the best book on the history of the African Diaspora, and the 2020 Dred Scott Freedom Award for Historical Literary Excellence, which honors the legacy and impact of Dred Scott in the struggle for racial equality.
Mustakeem’s talk will take place in McKinnon Hall and begin with a lunch at noon. The event is free and open to the public but an RSVP is required. The event is sponsored by the Office of the President; Department of History and Geography; Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity Education; and African & African-American studies at Elon.