Karen "Kym" Morrison

Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of College of Ethnic Studies
On Sabbatical Spring 2024
Phone: (415) 338-7561
Location: Humanities Building Room 257 Office Hours by appointment only

I am a social historian of Latin America and the African diaspora. Before coming to San Francisco State, I taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at Moravian College, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. My research explores the interactions between global and local racial-formation processes as they relate to African descendent people and communities. Before turning to an academic career, I earned a degree in electrical engineering at Duke University and then worked for a few years in military weapons systems development. A realization that advanced technical training often lacked a connection to social justice and social ethics prompted my career shift. I now teach so as to inspire college students to have positive views on diversity and social difference. I was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Brazil for the 2015-2016 academic year. There I began a second monograph project, which explores the connections between black pride, racial hybridity and whitening in post-abolition Rio de Janeiro.

Research Interests

  • Racial Formations among Afro-Latin American populations, especially those in Brazil and Cuba
  • Forms of black female power in non-traditional political settings
  • Black intellectual history in various locations within the African Diaspora

Selected Publications

  • Cuba's Racial Crucible: The Sexual Economy of Social Identities, 1750-2000 (Indiana University Press, 2015). Winner of the 2016 Northeast Council on Latin American Studies Marysa Navarro Best Book Prize that describes it as "a transformative volume in Latin American
  • Studies...Morrison moves us miles beyond facile accounts of mestizaje that too often characterize post-colonial histories."
  • “Afro-Latina Writers and the Historical Complexities of Reproducing Race” forthcoming in the journal Meridians.
  • “‘Whitening’ Revisited: Nineteenth-Century Cuban Counterpoints,” in Africans into Spanish America: Expanding the Diaspora, eds. Sherwin Bryant, Rachel O’Toole, and Ben Vinson (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012).
  •  “White Fathers and Slave Mothers in Nineteenth-Century Cuba Defining Family and Social Status,” Slavery & Abolition 31 (March 2010): 29-55