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Assistant Professor

Department of English

 Tulane University

Norman Mayer Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118


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


ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


2022-2024      Mellon Just Futures Faculty Fellow, American Studies

                         Williams College


2018 -              Assistant Professor, Department of English

present           Tulane University  

                         Africana Studies Program, Affiliated Faculty

                         Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Affiliated Faculty


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

                         University of Bremen, Germany




Peer-reviewed Journal Articles


“Black Surfeit, Black Grief: Not of Meaning nor Measure,” Political Theology, 2023, DOI: 10.1080/1462317X.2023.2281823

“Death Rattle Not Dashikis: Nikki Giovanni’s Black Judgement Meets Hannah Arendt,” Philosophy Today, Philosophy   Documentation Center, 2023. Crossref, doi:10.5840/philtoday2023104502


“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)

Works-in-Progress and Under Review

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


“The Poetics of the Black Corpse and the Urbild of Politics,” Polity (symposia, under review, 2024)


“Lateral Abyss: Antiblackness and Jouissance, the Interminable,” Afropessimism, Antiblackness and Lacan (in progress, 2024).


“Psycho-politics: Lost or Missing?” Political Concepts, Ed. Michael Sawyer, Fordham University Press, (in progress, 2024).


“Of Monsters and Murder: The Racial Politics of Opacity in Discourses on Femicide” (in progress)


“Violence by Any Other Name: The Impasse of Black Female Sexuality” (in progress)


“The Position of the ‘Unthot’: From Ratchet to Revolution” (in progress)


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


Encyclopedia Entries (peer-reviewed)


“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 Review


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


Public Scholarship and Creative Work


“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.



INVITED TALKS__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


2024                “Limits of Legibility: The Questions of Blackness and Sexuality,” in conversation with David Marriott, Lee Edelman,                                 and Joan Copjec hosted by differences, Brown University, Providence, RI


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                “Para-ontologies of Terror,” The Futures of American Studies Summer Institute, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH


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 (virtual), 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                “A Counterfeit Inheritance and the Hypotaxis of Policing,” Critique/Black/Feminism(s) (virtual), Williams College


2020                “Absence and the Telos of Myth,” Keynote for The Roundtable for Black Feminist and Womanist Theory (virtual),                                          Penn State University


2020                “Psycho-Politics,” 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


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


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


CONFERENCES AND SYMPOSIA_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Papers Presented

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                “Of Water and Weather: A Morbid Calculus”: The 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     


2014                “Black Fungibility and Resistance: The Slave Performs Gender in Naomi Wallace’s The Liquid Plain”: 

                         University of California, Irvine Symposium on The Liquid Plain

2014                “Phantasmagoria: or, The World is a Haunted Plantation,” African American Expression in Print and                                                           Digital Culture, Madison, WI

2014                “Africans Waiting to Die: State of Breach, Foreclosure, and the Promise of Return in the work of 

                         Hortense Spillers and David Marriott”: Roundtable with Hortense Spillers, UC Irvine Annual Undergraduate Critical                               Theory Conference, Irvine, CA

2014                “Affective Binds: Intramural Violence and the Disarticulation of Racial Slavery in                         

                         Nuruddin Farah's Crossbones”: American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Capitals, NY, NY

2014                “Technological Haunting: Blackness as Political Thaumaturgy”: Society for Cinema and Media Studies  (SCMS),                                         Seattle, WA           


2012                “Poetics of Relational Incapacity: Turning Mind in the Direction of Black Thought”: University of California, Irvine                                     conference, Thinking Afro-Pessimism

2011                “Ethnic Studies, Violence, and Power: Critical Apparatuses for the Discursive Black 

                         Subject”: University of California, Riverside, inaugural Critical Ethnic Studies conference

Panels Chaired

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          


Panels Organized

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

2013                “Blackness and the Ethics of Perception: Black Women, Black Bodies, Black Text”: The Collegium for African                                             American Research (CAAR) 10th International Conference, Decatur/Atlanta, GA


COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


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:


FELLOWSHIPS AND GRANTS__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


                        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 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

                        Hayman Dissertation Fellowship, 2013

                        UC Irvine Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, 2008-09            


TEACHING EXPERIENCE________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Williams College

American Studies


 Undergraduate Courses

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

 Race and Psychoanalysis: Slavery and the Psyche, Advanced Seminar


Tulane University

Department of English


 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 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

 Black Insurgencies, Senior Seminar

 Independent Study: Black Critical Theory

 Independent Study: Ambiguous Horror

Africana Studies          


 Honors Thesis Independent Study         


University of Bremen, Germany

English-Speaking Cultures


 Undergraduate Courses

                         Contemporary African American Literature, Advanced Seminar

                         Black Women Writers in the US, Advanced Seminar

                         Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter, Lecture Course


Advising        Honors Thesis Co-Advisor, Africana Studies & Political Science,

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


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

 Taijia McDougal, “Blackness, Terminable and Interminable”





                         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, 2020-2022

                         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



 English (fluent)

 Amharic (native speaker)

 German (reading)

 Spanish (reading and speaking)

Contact Selamawit for

full CV

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