Christina Proenza-Coles

Christina Proenza-Coles examines questions surrounding race and ethnicity with an interdisciplinary, comparative, transnational, and transhistorical framework. She has taught courses whose topics range from the historical, with particular focus on the colonial Atlantic world, to the contemporary, including the sociology of culture and immigration. Her work endeavors to shed light on current dynamics of race and ethnicity in the United States within a larger world-historical context. She recently published her first book, American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom the New World (NewSouth Books 2019) which reframes the American narrative in a hemispheric scope. She is currently working on a second book, Imagining Communities in Black and White.

Selected Publications

  • American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World, NewSouth Books, 2019.
  • “Freedom Seekers: On Black Colonialists in Seventeenth-Century America,” Lapham’s Quarterly, March 19, 2019.
  •  “Why Are We Still Segregating Black History in February?” The Daily Beast, February 18, 2019.
  • “African Americans in the Military,” The Civil War and Reconstruction Era. Brain Johnson and Edward Blums, eds. Bruccoli Clark Layman/Manly, 2010.
  • “The Right to One’s Relatives: The Conventions and Consequences of Denying Paternity for Mixed-Race Children in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia.” Voices from Within the Veil. William Alexander, ed., Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.
  • “What Color Is Cuban?: Complexities of Ethnic and Racial Identity” Cuban Transitions at the Millennium, Eloise Linger and John Cotman, eds., International Development Options, 2000. Originally published in Global Development Studies, Volume 1, Numbers 3-4, Winter 1998-Spring 1999.


  • Principal Investigator for "Local History in a Global Context: Petersburg's African American History in the Context of the Atlantic World" with grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, February 2009 to February 2010
  • Selected participant NEH Summer Research Institute "Slaves, Soldiers, Rebels: Currents of Black Resistance in the Tropical Atlantic, 1760-1888," Johns Hopkins University, July 6 - August 7, 2009
  • Historic Petersburg Foundation Award, 2009 
  • The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Summer Research Fellowship 2006
  • New School Graduate Faculty Scholarship, 1996-1997, 1997-1998
  • New School Graduate Faculty Research Assistance Scholarship, 1995-1996
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Ph.D. Sociology and Historical Studies. New School for Social Research, Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, New York, NY. January 2004. M.A Sociology with honors. NSSR Graduate Faculty. New York, NY. May 1998. M.A. Liberal Studies with honors. NSSR Graduate Faculty. New York, NY. May 1998. B.A. Psychology. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA. May 1992.
Lecturer in American Studies | Office Hours: Tuesdays, 12:30 - 2:00, Thursdays, 12:30 - 2:00 | Wilson 119