Research Statement

My research and scholarship examines the articulation of racial, ethnic, and national identities in contemporary global visual culture. While the ascendancy of multinational capitalism and post-industrial globalization have led to the ostensible demise of the nation-state, national borders, and the identities constructed therein, my work explores how the fictive categories of "race," "nation," and "ethnicity" are still operative in the twenty-first century. Informed by visual cultural studies, as well as postcolonial, feminist, and psychoanalytic theories of subject formation, my research explores tensions and conflicts between processes of hybridity and multiplicity, and the reassertion of discrete, bounded identities in visual cultural production. My work is attentive to historical contextualization and historiography, examining how visual artists propose alternative histories of Western modernity and postmodernity. 

Italian Cinema and Visual Culture

In my primary research area of Italian film and visual culture, I examine race, gender and sexuality in the Italian postcolonial imaginary, immigration and the Italian/European border crisis, and theories of post-nationalism. My book, Equivocal Subjects: Between Italy and Africa -- Constructions of Racial and National Identity in the Italian Cinema (Bloomsbury/Continuum Press, 2012), traces the Italian cinema's role in the construction and circulation of racial ideologies from its silent era to the present. I accomplish this study by examining the representation of African Italian mixed race subjects in films ranging from the Italian Fascist colonial to the postwar neorealist cinema. Equivocal Subjects takes "mixed race" as a trope for Italy's negotiation of its internal racial heterogeneity, a negotiation that continues in the present day and can be seen in the country's emergent multicultural society.

Italian Cinema and the African Diaspora

Through reference to contemporary African diasporic directors, Equivocal Subjects also investigates how previous enactments of racial and national identity in the Italian cinema influence current debates regarding the Italy's colonial legacy and non-Western European immigration. In my article, "Envisioning Postcolonial Italy: Haile Gerima's Adwa: An African Victory and Isaac Julien's Western Union: Small Boats," I argue filmmakers Haile Gerima and Isaac Julien, through their dialogue with the Italian cinema, re-contextualize and expand our understanding of Italian colonial and migratory histories by illustrating continuities between Italy and Africa that are marginalized in contemporary immigration debates. Gerima and Julien posit Italy as a significant location for African diasporic identity formation and a site upon which larger debates regarding immigration and the "boundaries of Europe" must take place. 

Digital Feminist Studies

My recent publications are exemplary of the interdisciplinary trajectory of my work in film and media studies and visual cultural studies. In "Bina48: Race, Gender and Queer Artificial Life," published in ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology, I argue Bina48, an artificial intelligence modeled after an African American woman, achieves radical political potential not by way of the trope of bodily transcendence and networked disembodiment, but rather, through her convergence of cybernetics, queer, and racial emancipatory politics toward possible hybrid, future constructions of self. I have also published "The New 'Material Girls': Madonna, 'Millennial' Pop Divas, and the Politics of Race and Gender" in the edited collection Futuere Texts: Subversive Performance and Feminist Bodies (Parlor Press, 2015). In this essay, I wxamine contemporary pop divas such as Lady Gaga, Brittney Spears, and Beyoncé, or artists I term "millennial" pop divas, in relation to the legacies of Madonna and the Culture Wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. In particular, I consider the legacies of feminist theory and its popular culture interventions in what can be read as a transitional moment from second to third wave feminism. 

Selected Publications


Equivocal Subjects: Between Italy and Africa – Constructions of Racial and National Identity in the Italian Cinema. London and New York: Continuum Press, 2012.

Book Chapters


“The New ‘Material Girls’: Madonna, ‘Millennial’ Pop Divas, and the Politics of Race and Gender.” Future Texts: Subversive Performance and Feminist Bodies. Edited by Vicki Callahan and Virginia Kuhn. Anderson, SC: Parlor Press, 2015. 13-26.


“Buffalo Soldiers on Film: Il soldato afroamericano nel cinema neorealista e postbellico italiano” (“Buffalo Soldiers on Film: The African American Soldier in Italian Neorealist and Postwar Cinema.”). L’Africa in Italia: per una controstoria postcoloniale deL cinema italiano (Africa in Italy: Towards a Postcolonial Counterhistory of the Italian Cinema). Edited by Leonardo De Franceschi. Rome: Aracne, 2013. 93-108.


“The African Diaspora in Italy: Immigration and National Belonging in Mohammed Soudani’s Where the Earth Freezes and Isaac Julien’s Western Union: small boats” in Un Nuovo Cinema Politico Italiano? Volume 1: lavoro, migrazione, relazioni di genere (A New Italian Political Cinema?: Vol. 1: Labor, Migration, Gender Relations). Edited by William Hope and Luciana d’Arcangeli, and Silvana Serra. Leicester, UK: Troubador, 2013. 187-198.                 


 “Envisioning Postcolonial Italy: Haile Gerima’s Adwa: An African Victory and Isaac Julien’s Western Union: Small Boats” in Postcolonial Italy: Challenging National Homogeneity. Edited by Cristina Lombardi-Diop and Caterina Romeo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 253-262.


“Il Mulatto: The Negotiation of Interracial Identity in the Italian Post-War Narrative Film” in From Terrone to Extracomunitario:New Manifestations of Racism in Contemporary Italian Cinema: Shifting Demographics and Changing Images in a Multi-Cultural Globalized Society. Edited by Grace Bullaro. London: Troubador, 2012. 25-60.


Refereed Articles


“Bina 48: Race, Gender, and Queer Artificial Life.” ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology. Issue 9. DOI: 10.7264/N3G44NKP.


“Talking About Whiteness: Using Digital Pedagogy to Interrogate Racial Privilege.” Critical Pedagogies in Neoliberal Times. Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier Vol. 3(2). Eds. Courtney Bailey and Julie Wilson. June 2015.


Book Reviews


A Companion to Italian Cinema. Wiley-Blackwell: Malden and Oxford, 2017. 618 pp. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 16:2, 210-215, DOI: 10.1080/17400309.2018.1446733.


Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Alexander Weheliye.Duke University Press: Durham and London, 2014. 209 pp. Somatechnics. 6.1 (2016): 119-122.


“The Italian ‘Race’ and Its Discontents.” Bianco e Nero: Storia dell’identità razziale degli italiani. Gaia Giuliani and Cristina Lombardi-Diop. Milan: Mondadori Education S.p.A., 2013, 206 pp. g/s/i (gender/sexuality/Italy). August 2015.


Affirmative Reaction: New Formations of White Masculinity. Hamilton Carroll. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010, 221 pp. The Journal of Popular Culture. 45. 4 (August 2012): 917-920.


Catalogue Essays


“After the Fire.” John Riepenhoff: Established Artist. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L. Nohl Fellowships for Individual Artists Exhibition Catalogue. October 2015.


“Chasing Horizons: New Visions of Landscape Art: Forward. “ Chasing Horizons: New Visions of Landscape Art. Milwaukee, WI: The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2013. 5-9.


“Isaac Julien’s Expeditions.” Isaac Julien: Expeditions. Christina Dittrich (ed.). Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2012. 30-59.


Invited Essays


“The American Soldier in Italian Neorealist and Postwar Film.” Italy A/R: Migrazioni nel/del  Migrations to/from the Italian Cinema, Daniela Aronica and Vito Zagarrio, eds. Special Issue, Quaderni del CSCI,  No. 8 (Annual Journal of Italian Cinema, The Center for the Study of Italian Cinema),  2012. 177-179.


Il Mulatto.Italy A/R: Migrations to/from the Italian Cinema, Daniela Aronica and Vito Zagarrio, eds. Special Issue, Quaderni del CSCI, No. 8 (Annual Journal of Italian Cinema, The Center for the Study of Italian Cinema, No. 8), 2012. 208-209.