Voices From Our America

Meet the Team

Professor Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo

Founding Director and Principal Investigator

Dr. Nwankwo is Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, with secondary appointments and affiliations with the Department of Teaching and Learning, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies. She earned her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1999.

Professor Nwankwo’s research has focused on encounters among African-American, Latin American, and West Indian peoples in the areas of culture, identity, and ideology with the goal of understanding the persistent barriers to progressive cross-group engagements. Her book, Black Cosmopolitanism(2005), is a comparative study of people of African descent in Cuba, the U.S., and the British West Indies in the wake of the Haitian Revolution. In it, she reveals that fear fostered by the revolution determined and has continued to determine the ways African-descended peoples in this hemisphere relate to each other, as well as to other American populations. The implications of this analysis attempts to understand whether relations between U.S. African Americans and recent immigrants to the U.S. are significant.

Professor Nwankwo has also provided new insight into U.S. African American-Latino/Latin American-Caribbean relations through articles that have appeared in journals such as American Literary History, Radical History Review, and Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos. Her other publications include African Routes, Caribbean Roots, Latino Lives-a special issue of the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World (edited with Mamadou Diouf) focused on music and dance, and Critical Approaches to Louise Bennett-a special issue of the Journal of West Indian Literature.

Listen to the VFOA Project Conception Interview with Dr. Nwankwo

Courtney Ariel Bowden

Research Assistant

Courtney Ariel Bowden moved to Nashville, Tennessee from her home of Southern California, where she graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in English literature. Currently she is a graduate student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, with concentrations in Religion Arts & Culture and Gender & Sexuality. 

A songwriter and storyteller, her music can be found on most streaming platforms. As a Sojourners contributor, she has written several articles including “For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies,” and “How White Liberals Perpetuate Relational Violence.” She serves as the Research Assistant for the Voices From our America project and Dr. Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo. Through her research, writing and music, she is committed to speaking back —speaking truth — to systems of oppression, which she believes to be at the core of her resistance and our collective pathway to liberation. 


Team Members and Collaborators Have Included:

Nyasha Warren

Rebecca Bernard

Destiny Birdsong

Lornies Bowen

Kari C. Brown

Veronica Forte

Professor Jean Harris

Verónica Hidalgo

Professor Melva Lowe de Goodin

Karin Whitehouse

Katie Zien

Catalina Garrido

Melinda W. Green

Patricia Lewis

Felicia Morgan

Ethel Record

Enrique Sanchez

Trevor Sewell

Yolanda Anderson

Agnes Bryan

Mayra Rios

Lupita Salmon

Professor Jerome Branche

Professor Myriam Chancy

Professor Lesley Feracho

Professor Lucius Outlaw, Jr.

Professor Hortense Spillers

Professor Sonja Stephenson Watson

Violeta A. Donawa

Sam Gannon

TaCara Harris

Amber M. Henry

Jennifer A. Krause

Brianna Merrill

Elise Michael

Katie M. Willison

Katie Zien

Aiesha Beech

Haleigh Sherbak

Maely Urena

Irlanda Yanguez

Lizyenhy Linales

Yaromar Hernandez

Yizeika Charris

Jose Vergara

Sonia Yau Zhang

Deryn Smith

Alexandra Payares

Veronica Rodriguez

Ana Isabel Saavedra

Franky Tsang

Nilka Arrosemena

Efrain Cheung

Philippe Hines

Betzaida Montero

Daphne Macias

Ana Gabriela Chavez

David Gomez

Stefanie Arosemena

Delia Zuniga

Diana Espinosa

Carolina Guilbauth

David Joseph

Jorge Alexander

Andres Culiolis

Jorge Gutierrez

Sonia Velasquez

Aileen Alegria

Sary Osorio

Karen Waldemen

Dora Ferrabone

Stephan Fernandez

Patsy Espinoza

Dona White

Suhairah Sadiq

José A. Rodríguez

Kevin Fragueiro

José López

Mitzy Gómez

Maricarmen Lanuza

Shiara Ocaña

Asociación de Amigos del Muso Etnocaribeo de Bocas del Toro (AAMECAB)

Bradley Academy

Patterson Community Center

Sociedad de Amigos del Museo Afroantillano de Panama (SAMAAP)

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL Panama)

Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal

Instituto Panamericano

The Mellon Foundation



The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Chancellor’s Higher Education Fellowship

Trans-Institutional Program Grant

Vanderbilt Library Dean’s Fellowships

The Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core

Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science

Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research Grant

Humanities Tennessee

American Studies Association

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities Fellowship

Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning Faculty Innovation Grant

Vanderbilt International Office Curriculum Development Grant

Venture Fund Grant for Creativity in Curricular and Pedagogical Approaches

Center for the Americas International Incubator Research Grant

Center for  the Americas Working Group Grant

Center for Latin American Studies Curriculum Development Grant

Center for Latin American Studies K-12 Education Digital Resource Grant

Faculty Development Grant

Research Scholars’ Grant Program

Undergraduate Summer Research Program Grant

Poindexter Grant