chat with Khary Oronde Polk (history, nonfiction, essay). He’ll read from his new essay/project, “Spacewalking in the Archive: Transatlantic Black Feminist Lives.”
Khary Oronde Polk is Associate Professor of Black Studies & Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College. He is a cultural historian of the African American diaspora, a specialist in LGBTQ studies, and a scholar of race, gender, and sexuality in the U.S. military. Polk received his Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University, and teaches courses on race & the American imagination, military history, Black European studies, Black sexuality, and queer theory. He is the author of Contagions of Empire: Scientific Racism, Sexuality, and Black Military Workers Abroad, 1898-1948 (UNC Press, 2020). A child of an African American military family, his new book examines how the movement of Black soldiers and nurses around the world in the early-to-mid twentieth century challenged U.S. military ideals of race, nation, sexuality and honor. Contagions of Empire was a finalist for the Organization of American Historians 2021 Lawrence Levine Prize, awarded to the best book in American cultural history.
Polk also has written for the Studio Museum of Harlem, Interim: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics, The Journal of Negro History, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Gawker, and the journal Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. He has also contributed essays to a number of queer of color anthologies, including If We Have To Take Tomorrow, Corpus, and Think Again. Polk is a member of the African Atlantic Research Group, the Critical Militarization Editorial Collective, and recently held a visiting professorship at the JFK Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.