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Leigh Raiford – African American Studies


Leigh Raiford is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she teaches and researches about race, gender, justice and visuality. She also serves as affiliate faculty in the Program in American Studies, and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Raiford received her PhD from Yale University’s joint program in African American Studies and American Studies in 2003. Before arriving at UC-Berkeley in 2004, she was the Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, Volkswagen Foundation (Germany), the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson foundation, and the Hellman Family Foundation and has also been a Fulbright Senior Specialist.

Raiford is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), which was a finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Best Book Prize.  She is co-editor with Heike Raphael-Hernandez of Migrating the Black Body: Visual Culture and the African Diaspora (University of Washington Press, 2017) and with Renee Romano of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006). Her work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including American Quarterly, Small Axe, Qui Parle, History and Theory, English Language Notes and NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art; as well as popular venues including Artforum, Aperture, Ms. Magazine, and Al-  Raiford’s essays have also been included in the collections Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary Culture After 1945, edited by Sara Blair, Joseph Entin and Franny Nudelman; Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, (Harry N. Abrams Press, 2003), a history of race and photography in the United States edited by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis; and Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity, (Duke, 2012), edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith.

Raiford has written essays about the work of a number of contemporary Black artists, including Lava Thomas, Mildred Howard, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Dawoud Bey. In 2019, she co-curated the group shows Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles (with Essence Harden) and About Things Loved: Blackness and Belonging at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive.


Selected Publications


Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle,

University of North Carolina Press, 2011 (cloth); paperback edition 2013.

Finalist for the 2011 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians First Book Prize

Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture,

co-editor with Heike Raphael-Hernandez and contributor; University of Washington Press, 2017.

The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory, co-editor with Renee Romano and contributor

University of Georgia Press, 2006.

“Introduction: The Struggle over Memory,” with Renee Romano

“Restaging Revolution: Black Power, Vibe Magazine, and Photographic Memory” (sole author)

Journal Articles

“‘Thanks to Berkeley…’: Managing Multiculturalism in an Age of Austerity,” with Michael Mark Cohen

Qui Parle, volume 23, number 2 (Spring 2015)

“Marcus Garvey in Stereograph”

Small Axe 40 (March 2013)

“Photography and the Practices of Critical Black Memory”

History and Theory, (Winter 2009)

“‘Come Let Us Build a New World Together’: SNCC and Photography of the Civil Rights Movement”

American Quarterly Volume 59, number 4 (December 2007)

“Lynching, Visuality, and the Un/Making of Blackness”

NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Special Issue, Spring 2007

“Special Forum on Race and Photography,” English Language Notes 44.2, fall/winter 2006, co-editor with Elizabeth Abel

Introduction, “Binaries at Work” with Elizabeth Abel

“Notes towards a Photographic Practice of Diaspora” (sole author)

Chapters in Books & Exhibit Catalogs

“Memory Manifest,” in Wendel White: Manifest

Deirdre Visser and Carla Williams, editors, California Institute for Integral Studies, 2015.

“Ida B. Wells and the Shadow Archive”

in Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity,

Maurice Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith, editors, Duke University Press, 2012.

“Ed Kienholz: Five Card Stud 1969/2011”

Exhibit brochure for Edward Kienholz, Five Card Stud 1969-1972, Revisited,

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2011.

“The Consumption of Lynching Images” in Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self,

Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis, editors, Harry N. Abrams Press, 2003.


Review of Toyin Ojih Odutola, A Matter of Fact, Museum of the African Diaspora

Artforum, April 2017

Review of Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, Resistance—

A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power

Ms., Fall 2010.

General Interest Pieces

“Dawoud Bey: Introduction”

Aperture: Vision & Justice, Special Issue guest edited by Sarah Lewis,  Aperture magazine #223, Summer 2016

“On Effigies and Elegies”

     Insurgency: The Black Matter(s) Issue, Department of African American Studies,

UC-Berkeley, December 2014

“The Free Speech Movement and the Unfinished Work of Civil Rights at UC-Berkeley”

            Remaking the University blog, October 7, 2014

“Remembering the Workers of the Domino Sugar Factory” with Robin J. Hayes

            The Atlantic, July 3, 2014

“Black History Month and the Uses of the Past,” with Michael Cohen

Al-Jazeera English, February 28, 2012