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Mari Crabtree

Assistant Professor

Address: Education Center, Room 207-A
Phone: 843-953-1013
Curriculum Vitae: Download

Mari N. Crabtree is an assistant professor of African American Studies and an affiliate of the History Department. She studies African American culture, racial violence, and resistance to intersectional systems of oppression in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her book manuscript, My Soul is a Witness: Lynching and Southern Memory, 1940–1970, is under review at Yale University Press, and it unearths how memories of lynching shaped identity, culture, and community in the mid-twentieth century American South. She uses the sensibility of the blues as the central metaphor for theorizing African American responses to collective trauma. She also has an essay on subterfuge in the African American cultural tradition published in Raritan as well as an essay on reimagining the temporal and geographic boundaries of lynching that will appear in an edited volume, Reconstruction at 150. Her next book project expands upon the subject of her Raritan article, and it is tentatively titled Shuffling Like Uncle Tom, Thinking Like Nat Turner: Humor, Deception, and Irony in the African American Cultural Tradition.

Professor Crabtree teaches courses on major debates in African American Studies, African American music, mass incarceration, collective memories of racial violence, and Afro-Asian cultural and political connections.


Ph.D., History, Cornell University, 2014
Dissertation: The Devil is Watching You: Lynching and Southern Memory, 1940-1970
Advisors: Nick Salvatore, Robert L. Harris, Jr., Russell J. Rickford, Kenneth A. McClane

M.A., History, Cornell University, 2010
Fields: African American History, American History, African American Literature

A.B., Black Studies, Amherst College, 2003
Honors: magna cum laude
Advisors: Jeffrey B. Ferguson, David W. Blight

Research Interests

African American History

African American Literature

Racial Violence, Trauma Studies, and Memory Studies

Irony, Humor, and Subterfuge in the African American Cultural Tradition

Courses Taught

Introduction to African American Studies

Introduction to African American Music

Mongrel America: Miscegenation, Passing, and the Myth of Racial Purity

Remembering and Forgetting: Race, Violence, and American Cultural Memory

Mass Incarceration and Its Roots

The Life and Writings of James Baldwin

Lynching in the American Imagination

When Bruce Lee Meets Bruce Leroy: Afro-Asian Political and Cultural Connections

Internship in African American Studies

Capstone in African American Studies



“‘My Soul is a Witness’: Lynching and Southern Memory, 1940−1970.” (book manuscript, under review at Yale University Press for the New Directions in Narrative History Series).

Articles and Book Chapters

“The Art and Politics of Subterfuge in African American Culture.” Raritan: A Quarterly Review 38, no. 1 (Summer 2018): 69−92.

“Periodizing Lynching, Contextualizing Violence.” In Reconstruction at 150: Reassessing the Revolutionary “New Birth of Freedom,” edited by Orville Vernon Burton and J. Brent Morris. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press (accepted).

“Bodies and Souls: James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the Meaning of Black Liberation.” (article manuscript).

“Blues Memories: Theorizing Trauma and the Blues Sensibility in the African American Experience.” (article manuscript).

“Unearthing Silences and Tracking Ghosts in the Traumatic Afterlife of Lynching.” (article manuscript).

Book Reviews

Review of Sounding the Color Line: Music and Race in the Southern Imagination, by Erich Nunn. African American Review 50, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 85–87.

Review of Democracy Abroad, Lynching at Home: Racial Violence in Florida, by Tameka Bradley Hobbs. Journal of Southern History 82, no. 4 (November 2016): 950– 951.

Review of Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South, by Talitha L. LeFlouria. H-Afro-Am, H-Net Reviews. June, 2016.

Review of Black Woman Reformer: Ida B. Wells, Lynching, and Transatlantic Activism, by Sarah L. Silkey. Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 114, no. 2 (Spring 2016): 261–263.

Other Publications

"The Black and White Views of Charleston's Racially Charged Murder Trials," in Mother Jones, 1 December 2016.

“The History of Jim Crow,” in Backlist, May 2016.

Freedom on the Move: A Database of Fugitives from North American Slavery, research assistant for Prof. Edward Baptist, digital humanities project, 2013–2014.

“African Americans and Emigration,” “Mound Bayou,” and “Marcus Garvey and the UNIA” in The American Yawp: A Free and Online, Collaboratively Built American History Textbook. 2015.

“Elegy and Effigy,” in The Appendix: A New Journal of Narrative and Experimental History, 2, no. 2 (May 2014).