Dr. Stephanie Leigh Batiste is Professor of Black Studies and English at The University of California at Santa Barbara and Director of the Hemispheric South/s Research Initiative. Her research areas include African American Literature and Culture, Race and Racism, Black Performance Studies, American Studies, and Cultural Studies. Batiste’s research examines the operation of blackness and post-coloniality as subject positions in scholarship on race challenging the notion of the abject and the operation of subalterity in order to reassess Black relationships to self and to power.
Her award-winning book, Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression Era African American Performance (Duke University Press, 2011) focuses on the relationship between power and identity in black theater, film, and performance cultures to reimagine national belonging, race, and modernism. As an engagement with dominant historical systems of thought on race and post-coloniality, this book rethinks critical traditions in American Studies. This research into black subjectivity explores the ideological mechanisms and challenges to the formation of Black diaspora and Black nationalisms. Darkening Mirrors won the MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize and honorable mention for the ATHE Book Award.
Her current book project, currently titled, SpacesBetween, studies violence and affect in millennial Black urban performance cultures in Los Angeles. This research reveals embedded structures of transformation in the confrontations with violence forged in performance. It also identifies theories of affective self-activity, engaged witnessing, and alternative uses of time and temporality amongst a population consciously both abandoned and controlled by the state, and thus enveloped in its own state of formation.
Professor Batiste is also a creative writer, performer, and supporter of the arts. She has written three plays: Stacks of Obits, Young Love Found and Lost: Six Poems in a Circle, and Blue Gold & Butterflies. Her solo show Stacks of Obits about street murder in Los Angeles has been performed nationally and internationally. An avid follower of Black Sci-fi and fantasy, Batiste researches the ways imaginative structures in Afro-Futurisms build alternative worlds while critiquing material ones to reimagine the nature of personal and social relationships and ways of being. She is co-editor of the New York University Press Book Series Performance and American Cultures. Her interdisciplinary critical and creative research has appeared in Text & Performance Quarterly, The Black Scholar, The New Centennial Review, The International Journal of Screen Dance, The Journal of Haitian Studies as well as multiple collections and anthologies.