Robin Kelley

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Robin Kelley
Robin Kelley in Oxford 001.jpg
Robin Kelley in Oxford, 2010.
Born 1962
Nationality American
Alma mater California State University, Long Beach;
University of California, Los Angeles
Genre History
Notable works Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Spouse Lisa Gay Hamilton

Robin Davis Gibran Kelley (born 1962) is the Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA.[1][2] From 2006 to 2011, he was Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC),[3] and from 2003 to 2006 he was the William B. Ransford Professor of Cultural and Historical Studies at Columbia University. From 1994 to 2003, he was a professor of history and Africana Studies at New York University as well the chairman of NYU's history department from 2002 to 2003. Robin Kelley has also served as a Hess Scholar-in-Residence at Brooklyn College. In the summer of 2000, Dr. Kelley was honored as a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, where he taught and mentored a class of sophomores, as well as wrote the majority of the book Freedom Dreams. During the academic year 2009–2010, Kelley held the Harmsworth Chair of American History at Oxford University, the first African-American historian to do so since the chair was established in 1922. He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014.[4]

Education[edit]

Robin Kelley earned his Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach in 1983. By 1987 he had earned his Master's in African history and doctorate in U.S. history from UCLA.

History and background[edit]

After earning his doctorate, he began his career as an Assistant Professor at Southeastern Massachusetts University, then to Emory University, and the University of Michigan, where he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. He later moved to the Department of History at New York University, where he was promoted to the rank of Professor and taught courses on U.S. history, African-American history, and popular culture. At the age of 32, he was the youngest full professor at NYU. He is an honorary fellow of the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford.

Kelley has spent most of his career exploring American and African-American history, with a particular emphasis on radical social movements and the political dynamics at work within African-American culture, including jazz, hip-hop, and visual arts.

Although influenced by Marxism, Kelley has eschewed a doctrinaire Marxist approach to aesthetics and culture, preferring a modified surrealist approach. He has described himself in the past as a "Marxist surrealist feminist who is not just anti something but pro-emancipation, pro-liberation."[5]

Books[edit]

Kelley has published several books focusing upon African-American history and culture as well as race relations, including Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class, and Yo' Mama's DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America. Kelley is also a prolific essayist, having published dozens of articles in scholarly journals, anthologies, and in the popular press, including the Village Voice and the New York Times.

His book Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Free Press, 2009), received several honors, including Best Book on Jazz from the Jazz Journalists Association and the Ambassador Award for Book of Special Distinction from the English-Speaking Union. It also received the PEN Open Book Award. The Monk family, notably Thelonious Monk Jr., granted Kelley access to rare historical documents for his biography. No other scholar has ever had such access and support from the Monk family. Kelley's most recent book, Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times, published by Harvard University Press, explores the relationship between jazz and Africa in the era of decolonization and Civil Rights. He is currently completing A World to Gain: A History of African Americans, with Earl Lewis and Tera Hunter and a biography of journalist and adventurer Grace Halsell.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In August 2009, Kelley married actress Lisa Gay Hamilton.

Bibliography[edit]

Robin Blackburn (right) after giving one of the Oxford Amnesty Lectures, with Robin Kelley (left) who was the chair for the event, 2010.
  • Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012)
  • Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (New York: The Free Press, 2009)
  • Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002)
  • with Howard Zinn and Dana Frank, Three Strikes: The Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001)
  • Yo' Mama's DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1997)
  • Into the Fire: African Americans Since 1970" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)
  • Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class (New York: The Free Press, 1994)
  • Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990)
  • Co-edited with Franklin Rosemont, Surrealism - Black, Brown and Beige: Writings and Images from Africa and the African Diaspora (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009)
  • Co-edited with Earl Lewis, To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). Two-volume edition, 2004.
  • Co-edited with Sidney J. Lemelle, Imagining Home: Class, Culture, and Nationalism in the African Diaspora (London: Verso Books, 1995).

References[edit]

External links[edit]