Devyn Spence Benson

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  • Associate Professor of History and African American and Africana Studies
  • History
  • African American and Africana Studies
  • Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies
POT 17th Floor, 1759 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Education:

PhD, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2009

MA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2004

BA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 2001

 

Biography:

Dr. Devyn Spence Benson is a 20th century historian who focuses on antiracist movements across the Americas and the Caribbean.  Her research and teaching interests sit at the intersection of Africana Studies and Latin American history, and she have worked throughout her career to merge these two interdisciplinary fields by focusing on Afro-Cuban history, politics, and culture. Benson has taught at Williams College, Louisiana State University, Davidson College and now the University of Kentucky. She is the author of published articles and reviews in the Hispanic American Historical Review, Journal of Transnational American Studies, Cuban Studies, World Policy Journal, and PALARA: Publication of the Afro-Latin / American Research Association. Benson’s work has been supported by the Doris G. Quinn, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS), and Gaius Charles Bolin dissertation fellowships. She has also held residencies at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and the WEB DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University.

Benson’s first book, Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution (UNC press, 2016) is based on over 18 months of field research in Cuba where she has traveled annually since 2003. She is also the editor for the English translation of Afrocubanas: History, Thought, and Cultural Practices (Rowman and Littlefield, 2020). Her newest project Black Consciousness in Cuba: The Untold Revolution explores the trans-Caribbean collaborations between English, French-, and Spanish-speaking black Caribbean intellectuals to show how Caribbean black consciousness flourished in Cuba in the 1960s and 1970s. This book project has been supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) year-long fellowship and is under contract with UNC press. Benson is also working with Dr. Danielle Clealand from the University of Texas-Austin to collect oral histories, publish a book, and create a digital humanities website about Black Cubans in the United States. This project was recently awarded a Russell Sage Foundation research grant.  In her spare time, Benson likes to read, play tennis, and cheer on her UNC Tarheels!

Follow her at TWITTER @bensondevyn

Selected Publications: 

Books:

Articles:

  • “Redefining Mestizaje: How Trans-Caribbean Exchanges Solidified Black Consciousness in Cuba,” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism (2021).
  • “Sara Gómez: AfroCubana (Afro-Cuban Women’s) Activism after 1961,” Cuban Studies 46:1 (2018): 134-158.
  • “Cuba Calls! African American Tourism, Race, and the Cuban Revolution, 1959-1961,”  Hispanic American Historical Review 93:2 (May 2013): 239-271.
  • “Owning the Revolution: Race, Revolution, and Politics in Havana and Miami, 1959-1963,” Journal of Transnational American Studies 4:2 (2012): 1-30. 
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