top of page
Dr. Sally D. Terrefe
© Copyright


Assistant Professor

Department of English

 Tulane University




                            PhD., English, University of California, Irvine  

                            MA., English, University of California, Irvine                  


                            MA., Humanities and Social Thought, New York University      


                            BA., English Literature, University of California, Berkeley



2022-2024           Mellon Just Futures Faculty Fellow, American Studies

                            Williams College

2018 - present    Tulane University, Assistant Professor, Department of English

                            Africana Studies Program, Affiliated Faculty

                            Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Affiliated Faculty


2016 - 2018         Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, Department of English-Speaking Cultures

                            University of Bremen, Germany




Book Manuscript


             “Impossible Blackness: Violence and the Psychic Life of Slavery” (in progress)


Journal Articles, Book Chapters, and Symposia

            “The Poetics of the Black Corpse and the Urbild of Politics,” Polity (solicited, 2024).


            “Lateral Abyss: Antiblackness and Jouissance, the Interminable,” Afropessimism, Antiblackness and Lacan (solicited, in progress).

            “Meaning and Measure, Suffering and Time,” Political Theology (forthcoming 2023).


            “Death Rattle Not Dashikis: Nikki Giovanni’s Black Judgement and the Political Philosophy of Hannah 

             Arendt,” Philosophy Today (forthcoming, 2023).


            “Psycho-politics: Lost or Missing?” Political Concepts, Ed. Michael Sawyer, Fordham University Press, (forthcoming).

            "Cathexis in Black: on Lou Andreas-Salomé’s “‘Anal’ and ‘Sexual,’” Psychoanalysis & History 24.1 (2022): 41-67 (response essay).

            “The Pornotrope of Decolonial Feminism.” Critical Philosophy of Race  8.1-2 (2020): 134-164.


            “Speaking the Hieroglyph: Black Women and Mimetic Thaumaturgy.” Theory and Event 21.1 (2018): 124-147.




             “Afro-pessimism” (with Frank B, Wilderson, III and Patrice Douglass). Oxford Bibliographies in African

             American Studies, Ed. Gene Jarrett, Oxford University Press, 2018.


            “Black Women Writers in the United States.” Oxford Bibliographies in African American Studies, Ed. Gene

             Jarrett, Oxford University Press, Spring 2016.



            “La fabrique de l'absence: le féminisme décolonial et négrophobie [Crafting of absence: Decolonial

             feminism and antiBlackness],” interview with Selamawit Terrefe by Fania Noel, Passerelle no. 24, March 2023.

            “What Exceeds the Hold?: An Interview with Christina Sharpe.” Rhizomes 29, Ed. Dalton Anthony Jones, Spring 2016.


Book Reviews


             Review of Frank B. Wilderson, III, Afropessimism (Liveright Publishing, 2020) for The Georgia Review (solicited)



             “Phantasmagoria: or, The World is a Haunted Plantation.” The Feminist Wire (2012): n. pag. Web. 10

             October, 2012.


            “It Relief.” Strange Tales of an Unreal West. San Francisco: Strangewest Productions, 2004

Works in Progress


            “Violence by Any Other Name: The Impasse of Black Female Sexuality”


            “The Position of the ‘Unthot’: From Ratchet to Revolution”


            “Carceral Speculations on the ‘Black Maternal’: Futurity and Foreclosure in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing”




2023     "Race, Power, and the Psyche: Violence at the Corridors of Psychoanalysis," ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin, Germany


2023     “Poiesis and Theoria: Black Judgement and the Aporia of Black Revolutionary Politics, The New School,   New York, NY

2022     On “Para-ontologies of Terror,” The Futures of American Studies, Dartmouth 


2021     “Damnation is the Only Gift to Bear and Debt to Carry,” Earth, World, Ethics: Conversations in Black and Caribbean Studies                           (virtual), Wesleyan Center for the Humanities, Wesleyan University


2021    "Lateral Abyss: Antiblackness and the Interminable," Diasporas : d’une terre, l’autre. Dialogues transdisciplinaires, University of                     Chicago in Paris, the University of Toulouse and the University Institute of France, Paris, France

2021    "Death and the Object's Desire," Black Thought, Black Subjects: States of Permanent War (virtual), University of Louisiana at                           Lafayette                                 


2021    "Embracing Hatred," Black Box Speaker Series (virtual), University of California, Irvine


2021     Critique/Black/Feminism(s) (virtual), Williams College 

2020     Keynote for The Roundtable for Black Feminist and Womanist Theory (virtual), Penn State University


2020     “Psycho-Politics,” for Political Concepts’ virtual conference,  Racial Justice in the Age of Plague


2020     “Antiblackness and the Politics of Demonology.” Plenary speaker for Political Demonologies: Race, Gender, and Coloniality in a                   Postsecular Age, University College Dublin, Ireland (cancelled due to COVID-19)


2020     “On Ambivalence,” Society of Fellows in the Humanities Thursday Lecture Series, Columbia University


2019     “Rupture and Relation: The Future Imperfect and the Condition of Black Impossibility.” Keynote for Rupture and Relation: A                         Workshop on Black Critical Thought, Northwestern University


2019     “Impossible Blackness: African Diaspora, Speculating the Future Imperfect.” Globalizing American Studies, Tulane University


2018    “The Fantasy of 'After' and the Desire for Difference: Fantasy, Anxiety, Difference—the Figure of the Other in the Aftermaths of a

            Violent Political Transformation, Max Plank Institute, Göttingen, Germany

2017     “Gender, Blackness, and Captivity”: Blackness and Captivity workshop organized by Thick/er Black

             Lines Collective during “We Apologise for the Delay To Your Journey” residency, Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London, England

2017     “Temporal Aphasia and Talking Flesh: Gender and the Practice of Antiblackness”: Black Feminist Futures: Re-envisioning Gender                 and Sexuality in Global Black Communities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC


2016     A Cool Dip in the Exponential Implications of Water:  Mini-symposium on “A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick,” California                       State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA


2016     “Revolutionary Praxis and the Semi(on)tics of Blackness”: Afropessimism as Critical Praxis, Frederick Douglass Institute for                             African and African American Studies annual New Directions Symposium, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY  


2015     “Black Revolution, Black Revenants: Shaking Oneself to Dream”: Inspiring and Ensuring Individual Student Excellence (iRISE)                         annual program, University of California, Irvine


2015     “Black Social Movements and State Violence”: #BAM 2015—Building a Movement: Against Police Brutality, The New School,                       New York, NY





2020     “Imagining Decolonizing and Abolitionist Futures” conference, Abolition Collective Convergence, Toronto, CA, May (canceled                     due to COVID-19)


2020    “Policing in/as Pleasure: Whither Black Revolutionary Desire,” American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Chicago, IL                     (canceled due to COVID-19)


2020     “Carceral Speculations on the ‘Black Maternal’: Futurity and Foreclosure in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing,” Modern                             Language Association (MLA), Seattle, WA,


2019    “From Ratchet to Revolution: Absenting the Black Female Revolutionary,” CBWP (Collegium of Black Women Philosophers) and                   Diverse Lineages of Existentialism, Washington DC


2018    “A Living Death: Violence and the Black Psyche,” American Studies Association (ASA), Atlanta, GA


2018    “A Meditation on Time, Transness, and Blackness: On C. Riley Snorton’s Black on Both Sides,” Society for Phenomenology and                     Existential Philosophy (SPEP), Penn State, PA


2018     “Abject Testimony: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the Criminalization of Black Dissent,” African Feminisms (AFEMS) Conference,               Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa


2018    “The Pornotrope of Decolonial Feminism”: Toward Decolonial Feminisms: A Conference Inspired by the Work of María Lugones,                   Penn State University, PA

2017     “Gender, Blackness, and Captivity”: Blackness and Captivity workshop organized by Thick/er Black Lines Collective during

             “We Apologise for the Delay To Your Journey” residency, Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London, England


2017    “Of Water and Weather: A Morbid Calculus”: African Literature Association (ALA), Yale University, New Haven, CT


2016     “The Quest for Freedom is Death’: State Violence and Black Bodies, Exploding the Transcendence/Immanence Divide”:                                 American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Cambridge, MA


2015    “Ratchet as Revolution? Black Female Flesh and Political Violence in/as the Popular”: American Comparative Literature                                   Association (ACLA), Seattle, WA                         



2020     “Legacies of Color” (co-chair), A Symposium on the Literary History of New Orleans, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA


2019     “The Crossings of Black Queer Internationalism,” African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), University of Michigan,                     Ann Arbor, MI


2015     “Negotiating Flesh as a Site of Memory: Reconsidering the Semantic Field of Hortense Spillers”: Modern Language                                       Association (MLA), Vancouver, Canada              



2019     “Blackness and the Afterlife of Slavery,” Black In/Visibilities Contested, 7th Biennial Afroeuropeans Network Conference,                               University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE), Lisbon, Portugal


2017     “Afro-pessimism and Praxis: a Roundtable on Revolution”: Pedagogies of Dissent, American Studies Association (ASA), Chicago,                  IL, 2017


2017     “‘Stepping Over the Dead’: Towards a Global Analytic of the ‘Afterlife of Slavery’”: African Literature Association (ALA), Yale                           University, New Haven, CT


2016     “Black Matter: The Times and Spaces of Black Movement, Black Thought, and Black Creation” (co-organizer): American                                 Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Cambridge, MA​​




2023     “Demystifying Anti-Blackness,” AfroPolitan Berlin, Berlin, Germany


2022     “An Ontology of Betrayal,” in conversation with Joy James and Frank B. Wilderson III:

2019     “Truth-telling: Nikole Hannah-Jones, Selamawit D. Terrefe, and the 1619 Project,” Conversations in Color, Amistad Research Center

2017     “Fade to Black,” Audio Documentary and Discussion Guest for Vitamindecolonial: 




American Studies 2022-2024


             Black Critical Theory, Black Avant-Garde (Spring 2024)

             Race and Psychoanalysis: Slavery and the Psyche, Advanced Seminar


Department of English, 2018-


Graduate Courses 

              Contemporary African American Literature and Black Critical Theory

              Fundamentals of Literary Theory

Undergraduate Courses

             Black Insurgencies, Senior Seminar

             Literary Investigations, Introductory lecture course in literary and critical theory

             #Ratchet to Revolution: Race, Gender and Violence in African American Literature, Advanced Seminar

             Toni Morrison and James Baldwin, Senior Seminar                 

             Black Queer Literature and Film, Advanced Seminar

             Independent Study: Black Critical Theory

             Independent Study: Ambiguous Horror


Africana Studies, 2019-2020

             Honors Thesis Independent Study: AFRS 4990-01 Fall 2019

             Honors Thesis Independent Study: AFRS 4990-01 Spring 2020

Student Advising at Tulane University  

             Honors Thesis Co-Advisor, Africana Studies & Political Science, 2019-2020

             Juharah Worku,  “ICE'D Out: The Criminalization of Haitian Immigration in the US”


Dissertation Committees

             Outside Committee Member, Culture and Theory, University of California, Irvine 2021-

             Taijia McDougal, "Blackness, Terminable and Interminable



Department of English-Speaking Cultures, 2016-2018

             Contemporary African American Literature

             Black Women Writers in the US

             From Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter: Black Political and Protest Literature in the US





             Executive Committee, Spring 2022

             Review Committee, English Department, Tulane University, 2019-2020



             Newcomb Grant Committee, Tulane University, 2019-2022

             Member of UC Irvine African American Student Experience Working Group, 2014-16



             External Reviewer, Philosophy at Oxford UP, 2022

             External Reviewer, Philosophy at Bloomsbury, 2022

             External Reviewer, Handbook of Global Social Theory, 2022 

             Co-founder, Black Internationalist Unions of the Abolition Journal Collective, 2020-

             Editorial Board Member, Journal of Bioethics and Black Studies, 2020-

             Editorial Board Member, Unthought: A Journal of Afropessimism, 2020-

             External Reviewer, GLQ, 2020-

             External Reviewer, Hypatia, 2020-

             External Reviewer, Lateral, 2020

             External Reviewer, differences, 2019

             External Reviewer, National Political Science Review, 2014      


             Board Member, Project Peaceful Warriors, New Orleans, LA, 2018-2022        

             Advisor to the Black Student Union, University of Bremen, 2017-2018

             Graduate Student Advisor to the Black Student Union, UC Irvine, 2015-16

             Political Action Advisor to the Black Student Union Demands Team, 2014-16




             Mellon “Just Futures” Fellowship at Williams College, 2022-2024

             Scholarly Residency Award, A Studio in the Woods, 2021

             Carol Lavin Bernick Faculty Grant, Tulane University, 2019

             COR International Travel Grant, Tulane University, 2019

             Newcomb Fellowship, Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University, 2018

             Impulse Grant, University of Bremen, 2017       

             DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service, Conference Travel Grant, 2017

             University of Bremen, Germany, Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, Department of English-Speaking Cultures in the field of                                    American/Black Atlantic Studies, 2016-20

             UC/ New Center for Psychoanalysis Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Consortium, Lake Arrowhead, California, “Psychoanalysis,                            Economy, and Desire,” 2016

             UC Irvine School of Humanities Graduate Division Graduate Student Research and Travel Award, 2015

             UC Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Consortium, Lake Arrowhead, California, “Ecologies of Fear,” 2015                    

             UC Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Consortium, Lake Arrowhead, California, “Love and Psychoanalysis,” 2014                             

             UC Chancellor’s Fellowship in English, 2013

             UC Irvine School of Humanities Graduate Division Graduate Student Research and Travel Award, 2013

             Hayman Dissertation Fellowship, 2013

             UC Irvine Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, 2008-09            



             Amharic (native speaker)

             German (reading)

             Spanish (reading and speaking)

Contact Selamawit for

full CV

bottom of page