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Current Fellows


Post-doctoral Fellow 2019-2020

Conā Marshall

Conā Marshall obtained a Master’s of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School and a Ph.D. in African American and African Studies with a concentration in Cultural Rhetoric(s) from Michigan State University. Conā is a womanist rhetoric scholar who engages constellating systems of race, rhetoric, religion, and gender. Their most recent publications explore relationships between hip hop and religiosity—more notably investigating meaning-making strategies that make claims and support for varying religious ethics—as evidence in their most recent publication, “I’m So Self-Conscious: Kanye West’s Rhetorical Wrestling with Theodicy and Nihilism,” in the Journal of Hip Hop Studies’ special issue I Gotta Testify: Kanye West, Hip Hop, and the Church. Their book project, Ain’t I a Preacher?: Black Women’s Homiletic Rhetoric, examines the sermonic rhetoric of four leading contemporary preacher-scholars—Teresa Fry, Vashti McKenzie, Eboni Marshall Turman and Melanie Jones—in efforts to (1) describe womanist preaching tenets and (2) prescribe a womanist preaching method. Conā has taught a wide range of courses on Black culture, religion and rhetoric, at Michigan State University and Lebanon Valley College. They will teach a course entitled, “Hip Hop and Religion” (Spring 2019) at the University of Rochester—exploring histories of hip hop, Black religions, and meaning-making.

Email: cona.marshall​@​

Post-doctoral Fellow 2019-2020

Grace Gipson

Grace Gipson received her Ph.D. in African American Studies with a designated emphasis in New Media from the University of California Berkeley, MA in African American Studies at Georgia State University, and BA in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University. Grace is Black future feminist/pop culture scholar whose research explores Black popular culture, digital humanities, representations of race and gender within comic books, Afrofuturism, and race and new media. Grace’s recent publications include “Creating and Imagining Black Futures through Afrofuturism” in the edited collection #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sex, and Nation; "What Can The Hunger Games Teach Us About Bitch Planet’s Megaton?" as part of Hard Women, Hard Time: Bitch Planet Comics Studies Roundtable in The Middle Spaces; and “Afro-Futurism’s Musical Princess Janelle Monae: Psychadelic Soul Message Music Infused with a Sci-Fi Twist” in the edited collection Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness, Vol. I, as well as various other publications in such outlets as Huffington Post,, and Black Perspectives. Her current book project seeks to explore Black female identities as personified in comics and fandom culture. A second project examines how online Black female academic and popular networks produce cultural and technical capital, which act as safe spaces that showcase, interrogate, and celebrate the blending of popular culture and the academy. She has taught courses on Africana history, Introduction to Africana Studies, Black Popular Culture, Channeling Blackness in Social Media, Race, Gender and Class in Contemporary South Africa, African American Families, and Making Sense of Cultural Data at the University of California Berkeley and Georgia State University. In Spring 2020, Grace will teach a seminar course on Channeling Blackness in Popular Culture at the University of Rochester. 


Post-doctoral Fellow 2018-2020

Zebulon Dingley

Zebulon Dingley received his Ph.D. in Anthropology and History, MA in Anthropology, and BA in African and African-American Studies and History from the University of Chicago. He is an Anthropologist and Historian of “the Occult” in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean from the 19th century to the present. Taking “occult” in the expansive sense of “things hidden,” his research explores the variety of ways coastal Kenyans speculatively engage the unseen forces felt to structure and drive the world of everyday events and experience. His current book project, Mumiani: Bodies, Rumor, and History in Coastal Kenya, analyzes persistent rumors of organized blood and body part theft as archives of ecological disruption, medical innovation, and political extraversion over the last 200 years of regional history. A second project on “rituals of enclosure and exposure” examines the repertoire of practices regulating the permeability and opacity of bodies, houses, and settlements among the Mijikenda peoples of the southern Kenyan coast. He has taught social theory and African studies at the University of Chicago and Harvard University and will teach a seminar in Spring 2019 on “‘Witchcraft’ and ‘The Occult’ in Modern African History” at the University of Rochester.



Conferences & Research Funding

Internal Fellowships

External Fellowships

Past Fellows