Herman Bennett Photo

Herman Bennett
Professor in the Ph. D. Program in History
Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)


Herman L. Bennett is a Professor in the Ph. D. Program in History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). Previously he was an instructor at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1992–93; asst. prof. The Johns Hopkins Univ. 1995–97; then at Rutgers—The State Univ. of New Jersey: asst. prof. 1997–2003, Associate Prof. 2003–08, prof. 2008–09; and finally Professor at the Graduate Center, CUNY since 2009.

Prior to his academic appointments Professor Bennett earned BA with Highest Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986, his MA (in 1988) and Ph.D from Duke University (1993). Some of his most notable publications include:

  • “The Subject in the Plot: National Boundaries and the ‘History’ of the Black Atlantic,” African Studies Review, 2000;
  • Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640 (2003);
  • “‘Sons of Adam’: Text, Context, and the Early Modern African Subject,” Representations, 2005;
  • “Genealogies to a Past: Africa, Ethnicity, and Marriage in Seventeenth-Century Mexico,” New Studies in American Slavery, 2005;
  • “Writing into a Void: Slavery, History and Representing Blackness in Latin America,” Social Text, 2007
  • Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (2009)

He is completing a new book entitled: Soiled Gods: Africans & Sovereign Power in the Early Atlantic and with Jennifer L. Morgan The African Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction (forthcoming: Oxford University Press).

As a student of the early modern African diaspora Professor Bennett primarily focuses on how dispossessed peoples navigate power and stake claims within the structures of dominance. At its core, his work engages the earliest formations of blackness, experiences that he views as inseparable from the historical configuration of the West. Writing the history of the West from its margins plays a considerable role in his relationship to the historical profession. As a perspective, it has meant that he constantly searches for ways to assist students and colleagues in seeing themselves as stakeholders so as to negotiate the workings of institutions and cultural formations with the ability to effect change in existing structures.

Professor Bennett has been the recipient of numerous scholarly awards including two National Endowment for the Humanities Grants, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University, an ACLS Burkhardt Fellowship, and Membership at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. A few years ago, he received the American Historical Association Equity Award; awarded for ‘excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the Historical Profession.” Professor Bennett is the Editor of the Blacks in the Diaspora Series at Indiana University Press, a member of the Editorial board of the University of Florida Presses, a member of the Social Text Editorial Collective and the editorial board of the American Historical Review the primer journal of the American Historical profession.

As a scholar of the African diaspora, I have long admired ASWAD and its founders for their institutional foresight. Scholars and scholarship on the African diaspora needed an institutional setting that addressed their collective thematic and epistemological concerns. If elected to the Executive Board, I look forward to advancing ASWAD’s intellectual and institutional vision but will focus specifically on two initiatives: fostering a mentoring structure for younger scholars who are ASWAD members and/or in attendance at the ASWAD meetings. In addition, I am keen on strengthening the financial profile of ASWAD through institutional and individual fundraising. Only sustained and substantial funding raising will assure ASWAD’s continued success and sustainability in a neo-liberal era in which Universities and knowledge production related to the Humanities confront diminishing support. In short, I believe it is time for ASWAD to mount a capital campaign.


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