Chinua Thelwell


Chinua Thelwell
Associate Professor of History, Africana Studies, and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies and Director of Africana Studies
William & Mary


Chinua Thelwell is an associate professor of history, Africana Studies, and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies at William & Mary. He serves as the director of the recently created Africana Studies program at William & Mary. His research focuses mostly on the racial politics of performance in transnational contexts. His book, Exporting Jim Crow: Blackface Minstrelsy in South Africa and Beyond, describes the expansive reach of traveling minstrel shows. Beginning in the 1830s, blackface minstrel shows were exported to many countries and colonies around the world. The main focus is on the Cape and Natal colonies and the connections between the apartheid system in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States. In short, Exporting Jim Crow is an anti-racist critique of the racist discourse in traveling minstrel shows. It was named a finalist in ASWAD’s “Outstanding First Book Prize Competition” in 2021. Thelwell’s edited anthology, Theatre and Cultural Politics for a New World, focuses on the ways that American theaters are rethinking Eurocentric canons in racially diverse ways in order to respond to the changing racial demographics of the USA. Thelwell’s scholarly interests also include: histories of west African diasporas, history of the idea of race, South Africa, performance studies, interdisciplinary research methods, comparative ethnic studies with a focus on Africana Studies and Asian American studies, and racial capitalism. He received his PhD from New York University in 2011. 


Click here to return to the Officers page.