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Mariel Rodney

Mariel Rodney is a scholar of Black diasporic literature, performance, and visual culture.

Her research and teaching interests span the literature of the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean, examining histories of race, gender, and sexuality. Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. 


Rodney’s project examines Benin as a central site for interrogating black sovereignty and kinship. She traces the routes of West African influence pursued by writer and scholar, Zora Neale Hurston, to define how communities on either side of the Atlantic re-imagine (Black) power. By examining these modes of “return,” the project explores articulations of kinship that decenter Eurocentric forms of research, pedagogy, and knowing.

Instead, the project turns to spiritual, linguistic, and communal experiences of power in, between, and beyond Benin. Rodney explores how Hurston’s sustained experimental writing—across novels, plays, ethnography, and journalism—on Vodou and global Black identity re-maps the possibilities and the limitations of kinship as a framework.