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Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Associate Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies; Director of Graduate Studies, Department of African American Studies; Director, Asian American Studies Program (2017-21); Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara (2004)

University Affiliations:

Faculty Affiliate of American Studies, the Buffett Institute, Center for Native American and Indigenous Research and Performance Studies

Research Interests:

Comparative Race Studies
Race and Anti-Racism
Asian/Black Relations
Black Popular Culture
Hip Hop Studies
Mixed Race Studies
Multisited Ethnography
U.S. and the Pacific
Race in Hawai'i


On Sabbatical for 2018-19.

Spring 2017:

AFAM 218/ASAM 218: Asian and Black Historical Relations in the US
AFAM 101 First Year Seminar: Mixed Race Memoir

Fall 2017:

AFAM 218/ASAM 218: Asian and Black Historical Relations in the US
AFAM/ASAM/Kaplan: Race and Indigeneity in the Pacific (co-taught with Hi‘ilei Hobart)

Current Research:

Nitasha Tamar Sharma's academic activities are based on an interdisciplinary, comparative, and ethnographic approach to the study of difference, inequality, and racism. The central goal of her teaching, research, and writing is to develop models for multiracial alliance building by zeroing in on cultural phenomena that unearth and challenge the factors that structure contentious race relations.

Dr. Sharma is co-editor of Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018) and is writing her second solo-authored book, Hawai'i is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific with Duke University Press. This ethnography is based on a decade of fieldwork including interviews with 60 people of African descent in the islands, including Black Hawaiians, Black Japanese, and African American transplants from the continental U.S. Two questions frame this project: What does the Pacific offer people of African descent? And how does the racial lens of African Americans illuminate inequalities, including antiBlack racism, in the islands? Bringing Black Studies into conversation with Native Studies, it charts how Hawai‘i’s Black residents including Black hapas negotiate race, indigeneity, and culture. This work speaks to debates in Mixed Race Studies, Comparative Race Studies, and Diaspora Studies to analyze Blackness in the Pacific and offer new theories of belonging that emerge from the intersection of race and indigeneity.

Her first book, Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness (Duke University Press 2010), analyzes how second generation members of an upwardly mobile and middle-class immigrant group use hip hop to develop racial--and not just ethnic--identities. The racial consciousness expressed by these hip hop artists as “people of color” facilitates the development of multiracial coalitions that cross boundaries while explicitly acknowledging “difference.”

Dr. Sharma teaches courses on the following topics: Hip Hop; Asian/Black Relations in the U.S.; The Mixed Race Experience; Race, Crime, and Punishment: The Border, Prisons, and Post-9/11 Detentions; Ethnographies of Immigration, Race, and Immigration; Race and Indigeneity in the Pacific.

Recent Awards:

The Provost Award for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Equity, 2018

Kaplan Fellow, Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, 2016-2017

National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend for ethnography on Black people in Hawai‘i (2015)

Associated Student Government Faculty Teaching Award (2007-2008, 2011-2012, 2013-2014)

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award (2013-2016)

Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Grant (2009-2010)

National Emerging Scholar, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (2009)

Weniberg College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award, Northwestern University (2009)

Outstanding Teaching Award, African American Studies, Northwestern University (2006-2007, 2007-2008)

Recent Publications:

Hawai‘i is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific (in progress, under contract with Duke University Press).

Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i, co-editor with Rudy Guevarra and Camilla Fojas. University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018.

Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness and Global Race Consciousness. Duke University Press, 2010.

“Black Hawaiians and Race in Hawai‘i.” In Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i. Rudy Guevarra, Camilla Fojas, and Nitasha Sharma, eds. University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018.

“Epilogue: The When and Where of Critical Mixed Race Studies,” in Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies, eds. Paul Spickard, Joanne Rondilla, and Rudy Guevarra. Rutgers University Press, Fall 2017.

“The Ethnic Studies Project: Asian American Studies and the #BLM Campus,” in Flashpoints for Asian American Studies, Cathy Schlund-Vials, ed. Fordham University Press, Forthcoming.

"Epilogue: Racialization and Resistance: The Double Bind of Post-9/11 Brown," in South Asian Racialization and Belonging after 9/11: Masks of Threat, ed. Aparajita De. Lexington Press, MD., 2016.

"Hip Hop Music-Anti/Racism-Empire: Post 9/11 Brown and a Critique of U.S. Empire," Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique. Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan, eds., 2016.

“Brown.” Keywords for Asian American Studies. Cathy Schlund-Vials, Linda Trinh Vo, and K. Scott Wong, eds. New York University Press, 2015.

“Asian Black Relations.” Asian American Society. Mary Danico, Anthony Ocampo, eds. SAGE Publications, 2014.

"Marketing MCs: South Asian American Rappers Negotiate Image, Audience, Artistic Control and Capital" Popular Music and Society. 2014.

"Pacific Revisions of Blackness: Blacks Address Race and Belonging in Hawai'."Amerasia Journal (37:3): 43-60.

"Polyvalent Voices: Ethnic and Racialized Desi Hip Hop," In Desi Rap: South Asian Americans in Hip Hop, Ajay Nair and Murali Balaji, eds. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers/Lexington Books, 2008:17-32

"Down by Law: The Effects and Responses of Copyright Restrictions on Sampling in Rap." In the Journal of Political and Legal Anthropology, May 1999.

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