Janelle Marlena Edwards

20150314_155031As a third year dual doctoral student in African American & African Studies and History, my dissertation project is focused on the experiences of Cape Verdean, Jamaican, and Barbadian immigrants as “Other African Americans” in Massachusetts during the Nadir period.  Employing theories of transnationalism in mobility and locality and Cultural Identity theory, this project focuses on the emerging ideas of Blackness emerging among Black immigrants’ through their ethnic organizations and neighborhood enclaves. I analyze how residential restriction, segregation laws, racist practices, and discrimination helped shape Black community cooperation through their daily interactions, but also how they maintained separate cultural identities through ethnic organizations.  Through ethnic organizations and their Massachusetts’ neighborhood enclaves, I question to what extent Black immigrants have made the choices to assimilate or separate from African Americans. Despite historical invisibility and racial tensions, this research will seek to understand if and how Black immigrants created spaces for their own cultural and ethnic preservation and how they conceptualized and related to nearby African American communities.

In the past, I worked as a non-profit professional with a specialty in educational services, volunteer management, recruitment, and corporate engagement as the Volunteer Services Manager at Presbyterian Senior Services, the Recruitment Coordinator at Mentoring USA and as a Program Coordinator with Achieving Leadership’s Purpose, Inc., a New York City-based non-profit.


  • Moorland-Spingarn Research Center Travel-to-Collections Grant, 2015-2016
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Endowed Scholarship, 2015
  • Davidson Scholarship for Study Abroad, 2014
  • OSA Need & Merit Awards, International Studies and Programs, 2014
  • OSA Academic Excellence, International Studies and Programs,  2014


  • University Enrichment Fellowship, 2013-2018
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, 2015
  • African American and African Studies’ Professional Development Mini Fellowship, 2014


Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

  • Teaching Assistant: Culture, Nationalism, and State Formation in the Modern Period,  2015
  • Lecturer: The Evolution of American Thought, 2014 – 2015

Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, NJ

  • Adjunct Lecturer: African American History to 1877, 2011


  • Portuguese, B1 – Advanced Low Proficiency


  • Association for Caribbean Historians
  • Association for the Study of African American Life and History
  • National Council of Black Studies
  • Association for the Study of Worldwide African Diaspora
  • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.


Fifty, Sixty, One-Fifty PLUS: Assessing Alternative Junctures in the Long Black (Civil Rights) Struggle

  • Research Assistant, Speakers Series Book Project, 2015

Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures

  • Anderson Award Committee, First Year Writing, 2015

Archie Mafeje Institute of Applied Social Policy Research

  • Internship, Research and Action in the New South Africa, 2014

African American and African Studies Program

  • President, Sankofa Graduate Student Union, 2014-2015
  • Event Coordinator, Sankofa Graduate Student Union ,  2013-2014

Email: janelle@msu.edu

Office: Wells Hall, C-704

Advisor: Glenn A. Chambers, Associate Professor

Fields: African Diaspora, African American, Caribbean, West African, 19th Century, 20th Century

LinkedIn: Janelle Marlena Edwards