Deborah A. Thomas
Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Deborah A. Thomas received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from New York University in 2000, and is Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas is the author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004), and is co-editor of Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness (2006). She has also co-edited special issues of the journal Identities (with Karla Slocum) and Feminist Review (with Tina Campt). Thomas is co-director and co-producer (with John L. Jackson, Jr. and Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn) of the film BAD FRIDAY: RASTAFARI AFTER CORAL GARDENS, a documentary film that chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica, and shows how people use their recollections of the Coral Gardens “incident” in 1963 to imagine new possibilities for the future. She was editor of the journal Transforming Anthropology from 2007-2010, and currently sits on the Editorial Committee of the Caribbean-based journal Social and Economic Studies as well as the Editorial Board of American Anthropologist. She was a member of the Executive Council for the Caribbean Studies Association from 2008-2011, and is currently Secretary of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Thomas’s own background is in the performing arts, and she is currently working on a multi-media collaborative installation and social memory project that addresses the state of emergency that began in Kingston, Jamaica in May 2010. She has participated in three ASWAD conferences (Rio, Barbados, Pittsburgh), and is interested in continuing to think through how we might develop collaborative institutional spaces for alternative modes of research practice and dissemination among the membership.