Natanya Duncan

Spring/Fall 2020

Lehigh University

Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies

Natanya Duncan is an Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies with an affiliate status in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Lehigh University.  A historian of the African Diaspora, her research and teaching focuses on global freedom movements of the 20th and 21st Century. Duncan’s research interest include constructions of identity and nation building amongst women of color; migrations; color and class in Diasporic communities; and the engagements of intellectuals throughout the African Diaspora. Her current book manuscript, Crossing Waters & Fighting Tides: The Efficient Womanhood of the UNIA, focuses on the distinct activist strategies in-acted by women in the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which Duncan calls an efficient womanhood. Following the ways women in the UNIA scripted their own understanding of  Pan Africanism, Black Nationalism and constructions of Diasporic Blackness, the work traces the blending of nationalist and gendered concerns amongst known and lesser known Garveyite women.  Duncan’s publications include works that explore the leadership models of UNIA women and include “Now in Charge of the American Field”: Maymie De Mena and Charting the UNIA’s New Course” in Journal of Liberty Hall (Vol. 3 2017); "Henrietta Vinton Davis: The Lady of the Race" in Journal of New York History (Fall 2014 Vol 95 No. 4);  “Laura Kofey and the Reverse Atlantic Experience” in The American South and the Atlantic World (University of Florida Press, 2013).  

Most recently she co-edited a special volume of Caribbean Women and Gender Studies Journal “Gender and Anti-colonialism in the Interwar Caribbean” published December 2018.  The 12 article volume examines the political ferment of the interwar period (1918–1939), tracking how gendered conceptions of rights, respectability, leadership, and belonging informed anti-colonial thought and praxis. Rather than constructing a singular narrative of Caribbean anti-colonialism, we grapple with the varied political visions and modes of resistance that animated critiques of colonial rule, attending at once to place-specific strategies and to shared regional agendas.