Imaobong Umoren reports from Harvard

Voices Across Borders

The Blog of the Race and Resistance Research Network at TORCH

Posted by: Imaobong Umoren                                                                                         
Date: 30 October 2014

Imaobong Umoren Reports From Harvard ….

I arrived in Cambridge, Massachussetts in early September, exhausted but excited. I am at Harvard until May 2015 to widen my research on the global travels of a group of Caribbean and African American women activist-intellectuals in the twentieth century. 

Over the past two months, I have met senior scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from around the world. Many have offered valuable advice about my research and honest (and at times humorous) tips for navigating the sometimes-confusing world of academia. I have taken advantage of the rich resources available at the Widener, Lamont, and Schlesinger libraries. I have attended numerous events at the Mahindra Humanities Research Center, the Radcliffe Institute, and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Last month, I sat in the iconic Sanders Theatre, inspired by Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, with a group of leading figures in the arts and politics during the W E B Du Bois Medal Ceremony. Among this year’s recipients recognised for their accomplished contributions to African and African American culture were none other than Maya Angelou (posthumous), Oprah Winfrey, John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Shonda Rhimes, David Adjaye, Harvey Weinstein, and Steve McQueen.

Living in Cambridge has given me the opportunity to take advantage of the lively cultural scene like the Cambridge Carnival International, a celebration of the city’s African and African diasporic communities, similar to the Notting Hill Carnival. With Boston a few T stops away, I got the chance to see the popular stage version of the 1967 film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner (best known for his portrayal of Theo Huxtable in The Cosby Show).

Overall, my short time at Harvard has reinforced the value of international academic exchange. Although I am not looking forward to the cold winter heading my way, I hope to continue meeting new people and planning potential future collaborations with scholars and students at Harvard and Oxford. I am missing Race and Resistance seminars but delighted to see all the new changes taking place (including the Voices across Borders blog!) and the exciting events this term organised by the dedicated steering group. I look forward to returning to the Radcliffe Humanities Building on Friday afternoons next year and wish all members of the network a fruitful and fun academic year.

Imaobong Umoren is a DPhil candidate in History and a member of the Race and Resistance steering group. She is spending the academic year 2014-2015 as a Fulbright scholar at Harvard.    

Voices Across Borders is always looking for new Race and Resistance Research network members to contribute to this blog. If you would like to write a piece, or if you have a response to a blog entry you have read here, please e-mail the Voices Across Borders editors, Tessa Roynon ( or Tamara Moellenberg (

The viewpoints expressed in Voices Across Borders are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Oxford.


Race and Resistance across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century

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