The Effron Center welcomes Professor Lorgia García Peña, scholar of Latinx studies

Written by
Effron Center for the Study of America Log
Effron Center
Nov. 1, 2023

Princeton University is thrilled and honored to welcome Lorgia García Peña this fall as professor in the Effron Center for the Study of America and the Department of African American Studies. García Peña’s powerful scholarship, activism, and teaching have established her reputation as one of the most vital and important voices in the academy working at the intersections of blackness, colonialism, and migration, while centering Black Latinx lives. Her multifaceted approach is grounded in social justice, women of color feminisms, and the Afro-Latinx episteme, and embodies her deep commitment to working alongside undocumented communities and with first-generation students of color.

“I am so excited to join such a vibrant community of scholars committed to transformative scholarship,” García Peña said, “and to be in the classroom with Princeton students, co-creating a learning environment that centers freedom.”

García Peña has also taken on the newly created role of director of the Program in Latino Studies within the Effron Center, infusing new energy and ideas while deepening the Effron Center’s already formidable course offerings in Afro-Latinx studies, Caribbean studies, Latino/a/x studies, and gender and sexuality studies.

García Peña comes to Princeton from Tufts University, where she was the Mellon Professor in Studies of Race, Colonialism and Diaspora, as well as department chair. At Harvard University, she was the Roy G. Clouse Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, and of History and Literature. Prior to Harvard, she was a faculty member at the University of Georgia.

García Peña’s most recent book, Community As Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color (2022), was hailed by civil rights legend Angela Davis as “A life-saving and life-affirming text [that] offers us the trenchant analysis and fearless strategy radical scholar-activists have long needed." Weaving together personal narrative and political analysis, the book advocates creating liberatory spaces for students and faculty of color within academia through practices of boycott, abolition, and radical community-building.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Lorgia García Peña join us at Princeton,” said Aisha Beliso-De Jesús, Effron Center Chair and Olden Street Professor of American Studies. “As a scholar, teacher, leader, and activist, she is fearless.”

In the classroom, García Peña is known for creating dynamic, inclusive spaces where community can flourish. In spring 2024, Princeton students can look forward to her teaching “Tropical Fantasies: The Hispanic Caribbean and Haiti in the Global Imaginary” (LAO 359), a course that proposes a counter-narrative of the myths and fantasies that have been created about the Caribbean and of the historical and cultural realities surrounding them. She will also teach a course cross-listed with African American Studies, “Black Latinidad: From Frederick Douglass to Cardi B,” which examines Black Latinidad as an epistemology.

In addition to Community As Rebellion, García Peña has authored other award-winning and field-defining books. Translating Blackness: Migrations of Latinx Colonialities in Global Perspective (2022) considers Black Latinidad in a global perspective in order to chart colonialism as an ongoing sociopolitical force. It won both the Isis Duarte Book Prize in Haiti/Dominican Studies and the Barbara Christian Book Literary Book Award. In the journal E3W, F. Joseph Sepúlveda Ortiz praised Translating Blackness as “an important contribution to Latinx and Caribbean, Global Black, Gender and Sexuality, as well as film and literary studies. [In it,] García Peña shows [that] ‘antiblackness is a pandemic that transcends time and geography,’ and today more than ever, many racialized subjects continue to call for solutions that challenge the limits of the nation-state and that push us to imagine other possibilities of belonging and community.”

Translating Blackness is representative of García Peña’s particular genius,” Beliso-De Jesús continued. “This groundbreaking book expands the borders of Latinx studies by weaving together archives and cultural productions across the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe. She argues forcefully–and convincingly–that Black Latinidad is a social, cultural, and political formation that is crucial to understanding forces of both oppression and resistance.”

García Peña’s first book, The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction (2016), examines the ways official narratives and histories have been projected onto racialized Dominican bodies as a means of sustaining the nation's borders. It won the Isis Duarte Book Prize in Haiti and Dominican Studies, the LASA Latino/a Studies Book Award, and the NWSA Gloria Anzaldúa Book Prize.

García Peña is a co-founder of Freedom University Georgia, a school that provides college instruction to undocumented students, and the co-director of Archives of Justice, a transnational digital archive project that centers the life of people who identify as Black, queer, and migrant.

García Peña is the winner of the 2022 Angela Davis Prize for Public Scholarship, the 2022 Barbara Christian Book Prize, the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize, the 2022 and 2016 Latino/a Studies Book Award, and the 2022 and 2016 Isis Duarte Book Prize in Haitian and Dominican Studies. She was named a 2021 Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation and in 2017 She received the Disobedience Award for the co-founding of Freedom University.

García Peña received a PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and an M.A. in Latin American and Latino Literatures from Rutgers University.