AAAS Faculty Reading Recommendations


Harvard African and African American Studies

Faculty Reading Recommendations


The Department of African and African American Studies (AAAS) at Harvard University was forged through protracted struggle and in response to antiblack racism and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many in our community have devoted their scholarly lives to gaining a deep understanding of the causes of racial and related injustices and to identifying the appropriate responses to such oppression. In light of the killing of George Floyd and the protests his death has engendered, several AAAS faculty members have recommended a few works that they believe might help others understand and respond appropriately to our complex political moment, particularly with respect to racism, police violence, political resistance, and state repression of dissent. Below are their recommendations, followed by a few selected works by AAAS faculty that bear directly on our moment.


For information on locating books at a library near you, visit:


Robin Bernstein

** James Baldwin, Blues for Mister Charlie (1964)
** Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (1994)
** Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (2010)
** Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959)
** Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (2017)
** Claudia Rankine, Citizen. (2014)


Suzanne Blier

** Orlando Patterson, Rituals of Blood. (1999)
** Kara Walker, Narratives of a Negress (2003)
** Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (1970)


Vincent Brown

** Radley Balko, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces (2013)
** Stuart Hall, The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation. (2017)
** Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963)


Jean Comaroff

** Robert Gooding-Williams, Reading Rodney King/ Reading Urban Uprising (1993)
** Stuart Hall, Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (1978)
** Trevor Noah, George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice, (2020)


Bojana Coulibaly

** Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks (1952)
** Cheikh Anta Diop, Civilization or Barbarism (1981)
** Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark (1992)
** Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (1983)
** Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (1950)


Alejandro de la Fuente

** George Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History (2016)
** Martha Jones, Birthright Citizens (2018)
** Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (1994)


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

** W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction (1935)
** Eric Foner, The Second Founding (2019)
** Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)


Jarvis Givens

** Elizabeth Alexander, “Can You Be BLACK and Look at This?”: Reading the Rodney King Video(s) (1994)
** Robert L. Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History (1969)
** Sylvia Wynter, No Humans Involved: An Open Letter to My Colleagues (1992)


Evelynn Hammonds

** Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, (2019)
** James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, (1985)


Jennifer Hochschild

** Arlie Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land (2018)
** Eric Schickler, Racial Realignment (2016)
** Rogers Smith, Civic Ideals (1999)


Vijay Iyer

** Gerald Horne, Jazz and Justice (2019)
** Shana Redmond, Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora (2013)
** Multiple Authors, Critical Ethnic Studies Editorial Collective, Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader (2016)


Walter Johnson

** Robin D.G. Kelley, "Black Study, Black Struggle" Boston Review (2016)
** Stuart Schrader, Badges Without Borders (2019)
** Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag (2007)


Jamaica Kincaid

** William Bartram, Travels of William Bartram (1791)
** J. Lee Greene, Times Unfading Garden: Anne Spencer's Life and Poetry (1977)
** Thomas Jefferson, The Farm and Garden Book (1987)
** Nina V. Salmon, Anne Spencer: "Ah, How Poets Live and Die" (2001)


Michèle Lamont

** Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth  (1961)
**Ava Duvernay, 13th Netflix Film  (2016)
** Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of colorblindness (2010)
** Douglass Massey & Nancy Denton, American Apartheid  (1998)


Sarah Lewis

** Richard Avedon and  James Baldwin , Nothing Personal (1964)
** Maurice Berger, For All the World to See: Vis ual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights (2012)
** Jacqueline Goldsby, A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature (2006)
** Laurence Ralph, Renegade Dreams (2014)


Carla Martin

** Mariame Kaba, Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (June 12, 2020)
** Robin D.G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (2003)
** Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick and Other Essays (2019)
** Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation  (2016)
** Visions of Abolition: From Critical Resistance To A New Way of Life (2018).


Jesse McCarthy

** Charles Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (2007)
** Robin C. Spencer, The Revolution Has Come (2016)
** Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped (2013)


Ingrid Monson

** Alexander Weheliye, Habeas Viscus (2014)
** Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Blues People (1999)
** Paula J. Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions (2009)


Marcyliena Morgan

** Angela Davis, Women, Race and Class (1981)
** Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
** John Langston Gwaltney, Drylongso: A Self-Portrait of Black America (1981)
** Robin D.G. Kelley, Yo' Mama's Disfunktional: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (1998)


Tommie Shelby

** Bernard R. Boxill, Blacks and Social Justice (1992)
** Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. (2019)
** Manning Marable, Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990 (1991)


Kay Shelemay

** Annette Gordon-Reed , The Hemingses of Monticello (2008)
** Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (2007)


James Sidanius

** James Baldwin , The Fire Next Time (1963)
** Ibram Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The definitive history of Racist Ideas in America (2017)
** Albert Memmi , The Colonizer and the Colonized (1965)


Doris Sommer

** Tato Laviera, AmeRican (2014)
** Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider (1984)


Brandon Terry

** Robert L. Allen , Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History (1969)
** Marie Gottschalk, Caught: State and the Lockdown of American Politics (2016)
** Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here? (1967)


Todne Thomas

** Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (2015)
** Naomi Murakawa, “Weaponized Empathy: Emotion and the Limits of Racial Reconciliation in Policing” in Racial Reconciliation and the Healing of a Nation  (2018)
** Loic Wacquant, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (2009)


Cornel West

** Anton Chekhov, The Student, (1894)
** Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, (1959)
** Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, (1964)


David Williams

** Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism without Racists (2017)
** Douglass Massey & Nancy Denton, American Apartheid (1998)
** Michael Omi & Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the U.S. (1986)
** William J. Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged (1987)



Works by AAAS Faculty


** Robin Bernstein, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (2011)

** Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stoney the Road:  Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow (2020)

** Jennifer Hochschild, Facing Up to the American Dream:  Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation (1995)

** Walter Johnson, The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States (2020)

** Michèle Lamont, Getting Respect: Response to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel (2016)

** Vision and Justice:  A Civic Curriculum  (2019)

** Ingrid Monson, Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call out to Jazz and Africa (2007)

**Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform (2016)

** Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry, To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., (2018)

** Cornel West, Race Matters  (1993)


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