Selamawit D. Terrefe

Scholarly Retreats
Type of work

Selamawit D. Terrefe is an Assistant Professor of African American literature and culture in the Department of English at Tulane University, where she also holds affiliations with the Africana Studies Program and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Before coming to Tulane, Terrefe was a postdoctoral fellow in Black Atlantic Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany, in the department of English-Speaking Cultures. Her research centers on questions concerning violence: the ostensible intractability of racial violence, specifically antiblack violence, as a global phenomenon. As an interdisciplinary scholar of critical theory and African diasporic literary and visual culture, her work endeavors to address multiple regimes of epistemological and political violence through examining the formation and circulation of conceptual categories central to multiple discursive fields. To date, her scholarship has attended to the homologies that contemporary modalities of violence share with forms of racialized captivity inaugurated by the Indian Ocean and trans-Atlantic slave trades. As such, her first monograph, “Impossible Blackness: Violence and the Psychic Life of Slavery,” argues for a hermeneutic that situates its mode of address toward an aporia: the relational impasse between Africa and its diaspora, catalyzed by two different eras of racial slavery. In a similar vein, the project she will be working on in the Woods engages the past year’s global Black rebellions in the context of ongoing dispossession and death—whether vis-a-vis state sanctioned violence, extra-legal murder, or medical neglect.