Africana Research Center welcomes new postdoctoral fellows

August 29, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Africana Research Center (ARC) recently announced its three fellows for the 2011-12 year and held its orientation on Aug. 24. The program supports early career scholars and junior faculty who conduct research centered on or related to Africa and the African Diaspora and assists them in establishing themselves in academia.

The ARC Fellows are housed in departments within the College of the Liberal Arts. During their residency, fellows have opportunities to showcase their research and scholarship, as well as to engage with noted scholars in their respective fields. The fellows have no teaching or administrative responsibilities, allowing them undistracted time to focus on research and publication, as well as professional development. Each fellow also received the benefit of being matched with a mentor.

Two types of fellowships are available through the ARC: the postdoctoral fellowship and the Humanities Dissertation fellowship. The goal of this program is to support doctoral students at Penn State who have completed all but their dissertation and are researching topics related to Africa and the African Diaspora. Dissertation fellows also have no teaching or related duties.

For 2011-12, the Africana Research Center Fellows are:

-- Michael Kehinde, who has degrees from University of Ibadan, Nigeria and Durham University in the United Kingdom. He recently completed a doctoral degree in politics at Durham University researching the implications of colonial boundaries in West Africa as a fellow of SEPHIS in 2010. His current research focuses on the significance of trans-border ethnicity for regional integration in West Africa. Kehinde had previously taught political science at Lagos State University in Nigeria and African politics at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. He is an alumnus of the Global South Workshop of the Graduate Institute of International Affairs, Geneva, Switzerland as well as a graduate fellow of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, India. Kehinde's research and teaching interests include African politics and development, borderland studies and migration. Kehinde is a fellow and research associate in the African Studies Program.

-- Crystal Sanders, who completed her bachelor of arts degree in history at Duke University. She earned her master of arts and doctoral degrees in history at Northwestern University in 2011. Her research interests include 20th-century United States history, African-American history, and the history of black education. She has received numerous awards including a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for Educational Research. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Africana Research Center, Sanders is revising her dissertation, "To Be Free of Fear: Black Women's Fight For Freedom Through the Child Development Group of Mississippi," for publication. Sanders is a fellow and research associate in the History Department.

-- Eugene Walton is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Duke University and a graduate fellow at The Center for the Study of Race Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Science (REGSS). His research focuses on international security, armed non-state actors, and the politics of identity. His dissertation is titled, "Armed Non-State Actors and International Crises: Rebel Group Mobilization and Crisis Violence." It is a quantitative analysis that features the collection of an original data set, and assesses the influence of armed rebellion on interstate violence. Walton is a fellow and research associate in the Department of Political Science and the Africana Research Center.

Dissertation fellows for 2011-2012 include:

-- Charlene Chester, who is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology. She received her master of arts degree in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on individual adjustment and family processes within an adoption context. Specifically, Chester focuses on the implications of the adoption process on family processes and adoptive parent adjustment within a transracial context, and how transracial adoption, racial attitudes and cultural engagement may serve to mediate or moderate these processes. This is in an effort to understand the factors which can affect the adjustment of children who have been adopted transracially.

-- Michelle Decker is a doctoral candidate in comparative literature. She received her master of arts and bachelor of arts degrees in comparative literature from Penn State. Her dissertation, "City, Island, Coast: Narratives of the Indian Ocean World," focuses on the literature and culture of the Indian Ocean region (East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia). Decker is especially interested in the ways in which the historical interaction (trade, pilgrimage) in this region prior to European colonialism persists in written narrative during and after formal colonization.

For more information about the Fellows Programs or the Africana Research Center contact Tracy Beckett, Managing Director and Fellows Coordinator at (814) 865-6482 or


Last Updated September 01, 2011