Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students

Hazim Abdullah-Smith (hazim@umd.edu)

Hazim Abdullah-Smith is interested in how Black cultural production documents the relationship between Black life, space, identity, and sexuality. His research interests span the fields of Black queer studies, literary studies, visual culture and cultural geography. Hazim is earning a certificate in Digital Studies in the Arts and Humanities. He earned his bachelor’s degree in African American Studies at Northwestern University. There, he was a Mellon Mays Fellow and completed a certificate in Civic Engagement.

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I.O Abukar (ilyasabukar@gmail.com)

Mr. Abukar is a McNair fellow and doctoral student in the American Studies program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Comparative Literature and a minor in English from the Pennsylvania State University. His research interests concern the acculturation process for Somali refugees resettling in the United States, black subjectivity, black ethnicities, and Diaspora.

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Brienne Adams (baadams7@terpmail.umd.edu)

Brienne’s research explores how African-Americans engage fictional romantic representations and discuss them in the digital sphere of social media platforms. Her research interests include: popular culture studies, narrative theory, race, gender, sexuality and class construction in novels, television, web series, and film. She received an MA in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, as well as a BA in Literature Studies from Beloit College.

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A. Anthony (aanthon1@umd.edu)

Anthony is a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Utilizing interdisciplinary methods such as participant observation, interview and textual analysis, A.Anthony’s work is most concerned with the interrelationships of identity formation, space, and place for transgender women of color in the District of Columbia.

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M. Benitez (mxbntz@umd.edu)

M. Benitez is a Flagship Fellow and PhD candidate in the program. A former welder who worked in the U.S. and abroad, she left the shop-floor to pursue ‘labor’ from a different angle. She graduated magna cum laude from New York University majoring in labor studies and gender studies and is a co-founder of the Reckoning Trade Project that works to educate and train non-traditional workers in blue-collar labor through a community-based framework. M. Benitez brings together the fields of women of color feminism, labor studies, affect theory, critical race theory, and performance studies, to analyze the intersections of labor and identity. Her dissertation challenges us to consider more critically the role our labor plays in creating and producing our identities and bodies, or, as she asks, how do we become our labor?

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Victor Bramble (vbramble@terpmail.umd.edu)

Victor Bramble is a PhD student in the department. They received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University with a double major in Ethnic Studies and Modern Culture & Media. Victor is interested in the dynamic, historical role of digital media technologies in the way people negotiate their experience of oppression and exploitation. Their primary research centers pivotal case studies from the last forty years where the implementation of new digital media technologies accompanied widely influential changes to everyday sites for the articulation of governance, resistance, and the normative human and citizen, including welfare administration, routine policing practices, and identity documentation.

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Leah Bush (ljbush@gmail.com)

Leah Bush is a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies. Her research centers around an ethnographic study of relationships between identity formation, music, queer theorizing, and performances of age within music-based subcultures, with a particular focus on the Goth subculture in Baltimore. Leah holds a BA in Sociology from Eastern University, where she studied social stratification at the University of Oxford, and an MA in American Studies from the University of Maryland. She also earned the Graduate Certificate in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture from the University of Maryland, undertaking a research practicum at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage which analyzed performance ethnography and cultural representation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. In addition to her graduate studies, Leah is a DJ on WMUC 88.1 FM and works as a musician in the Baltimore area.

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Elizabeth Comer

Elizabeth Anderson Comer earned an M.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology from the University of Kansas and a B.A. in History and Political Science from Hood College. As Baltimore City Archaeologist, she pioneered complex urban, industrial and waterfront public archaeology projects. As Chief Administrator, Division of Tourism and Promotion, she instituted a Heritage Tourism strategy for Maryland. She serves as Principal of EAC/Archaeology, Inc. a woman-owned business specializing in archaeological and historic architectural investigations in the US and abroad. She volunteers for the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc., managing historic structure restoration and museum development. She serves as co-PI on a joint Smithsonian Institution bioarchaeological research project analyzing the human remains of Catoctin’s enslaved population by utilizing craniometric analysis and stable isotope and DNA data to search for descendants. She teaches in the Museums and Society program at The Johns Hopkins University.

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Nicole Currier (ncurrier@wau.edu)

Nicole Currier is a PhD student in American Studies. She holds a BA in History from Atlantic Union College, and an M.A. in American Studies from University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her research interests include race/ethnicity, popular culture, and travel/tourism. A part-time student with more than 15 years of teaching and administrative experience in higher education, she is currently Interim Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland.

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Dallas Donnell (ddonnell@umd.edu)

Dallas Donnell graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with honors distinction, with a degree in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. Prior to joining the American Studies program at the University of Maryland, Dallas spent eight years doing communications and organizing work for a variety of racial and social justice organizations and initiatives, including the Black Youth Project, Color Of Change, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Free Press, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Broadly, Dallas’ academic interests include Black popular music and culture, politics, and social movements. His current research explores the use of nihilism as an aesthetic tool in Black art toward a larger critique of respectability, neoliberalism, and the politics of hope and change.

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Anh Duong (anhduong@umd.edu)

Anh Duong entered the doctoral program in American Studies in the spring of 2016. She earned her MA in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2008. Her research interests are cultural representation, cultural diversity, cultural sustainability, language and heritage, food studies, festivals, Vietnamese diaspora, immigration policies, racism, and Vietnam-US relations. She actively participates in many educational and cultural activities organized by the US embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. She was in the International Visitor Leadership Program in 1999 and a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Berkeley from 2000 to 2001. She is the co-author of “Characteristics of American Culture” (2006), and “Lecture on American Culture and History” (2014), both written in Vietnamese.

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Omar Eaton (oeaton@umd.edu )

Omar is currently a PhD student. He earned a BA in African American Studies from the University of Maryland and an M.Ed from American Intercontinental University. His research interests are Afro Latinx identity as well as Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion in museums and cultural institutions. Omar recruits and manages 200+ interns and fellows at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He participates on committees that focus on inclusion and advocacy for professionals of color at the Smithsonian. He has worked at the National Park Service, the Office of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, NASA and was a K-12 teacher in New York City and Washington, DC. Externally, he has board membership for Museum Hue (National Board Chair) and the Museums and Race Steering Committee. Additionally, he participates in sector-wide initiatives like MASS Action (Museums as a Site For Social Action), AAM’s DEAI Working Group, AASLH’s Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce and Leadership Nominating Committee, and has served on the National Program Committees for AAM and AAAM national conferences. Omar has published in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Museum magazine titled “Truth and Reconciliation: Museums as Advocates for Human Rights and Healing” and the Spring 2017 issue of History News titled “Calling Out Afro Latinx Identity.”

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Wanda Hernandez (wanda.hrnndz@gmail.com)

Wanda Hernández is a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2017, Wanda curated Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond, the first bilingual exhibition to explore Latino heritage in Virginia. Her research interest revolve around Afro/Latinidad, Central Americans and Washington, D.C., but more generally bring together race and ethnicity, space and place, material culture and women of color feminisms. In addition to academia Wanda maintains an arts education and independent curatorial practice.

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Anne Hoffman

Anne Hoffman is an doctoral student and an Associate Professor of English at Frederick Community College where she teaches writing, literature, and sociology courses centered on the structural inequities and histories of gender, race, and class in America. Her teaching career spans two decades and three states in K-12 through university classroom settings. She holds an MEd from The George Washington University in Secondary English Curriculum and Instruction and an MA in English from The University of Texas at San Antonio where she focused on women’s lived and fictionalized experiences in literature, television, and film. Her current doctoral work in American Studies at the University of Maryland explores the gendered intersections of motherhood, race, and the labor politics of public education access.

From this research, Anne created and manages Parents Lead, a degree and scholarship program at FCC designed to reduce child care barriers for working parents. Anne is an active leader at FCC, serving on the Faculty Association Executive Board, the College Senate, and multiple committees that address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She also has served leadership roles within the National Women’s Studies Association advocating for community college students and faculty representation within higher education. Additionally, she is a community organizer for #MeTooFrederick, a local, grassroots movement established to illuminate gendered violence and sexual misconduct in Frederick, MD.

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Robert Jiles (rjiles72@gmail.com)

Robert is a fifth-year doctoral candidate. Broadly, his research focuses on black representation in popular culture at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and age. Robert’s dissertation project is on visual self-representations of black men with same-sex desire on the Internet. The project brings together his research interests—visual culture, material culture, popular culture, film studies, performance studies, internet studies, black queer theory, critical porn studies, and affect theory—with visual representations located online, such as Darius Clark Monroe’s short film Slow; two web series that include Donja R. Love’s Modern Day Black Gay and Casey Hamilton’s Judy’s; and DIY porn, among other online visual texts. Robert considers the ways that black men with same-sex desire consume and produce online visual representations of their everyday life experiences. He uses visual analysis and ethnography as methodology to theorize the men’s access (as consumer and/or producer) to the online representations as affective encounters that generate acts of self-making with the potential to redress essential notions of blackness and provide nuanced understandings of queer desire in the twenty-first century. Robert has a BA in English Literature and Composition from California State University, San Bernardino, and a Masters in Africana Studies from Cornell University.

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Zac Johnson (zjohnso5@terpmail.umd.edu)

Zac Johnson is a doctoral student in the American Studies department at the University of Maryland. He holds an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies and a BA in Political Science, both from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he worked as a graduate assistant and lecturer for the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Zac’s current research centers on “identity politics” as a contemporary conceptual formation used to contain and police minority knowledges and political labor. Zac’s other research interests include the intellectual histories of European continental philosophy and critical minority knowledges, queer theories of identity and subject formation, and contemporary US politics. Zac’s intellectual work has been recognized with several honors and accolades including an award for outstanding work in Women’s and Gender Studies for a chapter of his master’s thesis, an exceptional paper award for a conference presentation at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association, and the Greensboro Graduate Scholar fellowship for outstanding academic achievement. Zac is also the current graduate student representative to the American Studies department and is a member of the critical university studies working group.

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Bailey Kier (bkier@umd.edu)

Bailey Kier is a PhD candidate finishing a dissertation examining the rise of environmentalism and its relations to the sexual, racial, and reproductive geographies of the Potomac River Basin. Kier received a BA in anthropology from Western Washington University and has been published in the journal Women and Performance. Kier’s major research interests include ecology, queer and gender studies, and studies of science, species, and race.

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Kevin Kim (jung.kevin.kim@gmail.com)

Kevin Kim is a doctoral student in the department, where he also teaches introductory courses on material culture. His research interests focus on cultural politics of food in the Korean American diaspora, as well as the discursive power of food in popular culture. In 2015, he was the recipient of a Park Break Fellowship in Cultural Resources Management from the George Wright Society and has also held curatorial internships from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Through his work with the University of Maryland’s Certificate Program in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture Studies, he is interested in researching innovative curatorial and exhibition strategies to connect marginalized communities with the museum world through food history. Kevin also serves as the editor for the department’s graduate student publication, Powerlines. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a BA with honors in History.

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Tim Kumfer (tkumfer@umd.edu)

Tim Kumfer is a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds a Master in Theological Studies degree from Duke University with a concentration in critical theory through the Program in Literature. Training as an interdisciplinary scholar of social movements and cities, his work draws on the fields of ethnic studies, critical geography, and 20th C. US history. His other research areas include theory and method in American Studies and the politics of knowledge production more broadly. He has a personal background in community organizing, direct action activism, and popular education.

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Mark Lockwood (mlockwo@terpmail.umd.edu)

Mark Lockwood is a Ronald E. McNair Graduate Fellow in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He earned a MA in Performance Studies from New York University and a BA in Women’s & Gender Studies and English from Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Mark is currently building on his theoretical framework he previously explored during his time at NYU. This framework centers black queer performance and masculinity in order to consider how black gay sex workers are represented in the gay porn market, while also critiquing an industry that profits from what Kobena Mercer calls “racial fetishism.” His dissertation looks at the figure of the “homo-thug” and argues for a more nuanced approach towards sexualized representations of black men in hardcore moving-image media. Mark’s dissertation pays attention to how black gay sex workers understand the political stakes of their representations and instead deploy what he calls “black inches” – a performative strategy that is tethered to black men’s racial-sexual history – to invoke agency where it is assumed to not exist. Drawing from black queer studies, race and visual culture, performance studies, and critical porn studies, Mark’s project provides new methods for reading black queer agency and sexuality in pornographic texts.

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Shoji Malone (Sanders) (ssander1@umd.edu)

Shoji Malone is a PhD student and Ronald E. McNair fellow in the department. She earned a BA in public relations with a minor in marketing from Marquette University. Currently, her research interests include black women’s history, black feminist theory, material culture, and black performance theory. She is exploring the ways that adornment speaks to larger conversations of identity formation for black women.

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Joseph Bernard Meyer (josephbernardmeyer@gmail.com)

Joseph is a PhD candidate. He received his BA in American Studies and History, and MA in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton. His research interests broadly include Digital Studies, Emerging Media, Identity and Community Formation, Trauma Studies, and Game Studies. His dissertation, “Zero-Sum Game: GamerGate and the Networked Discourse of Hate,” traces the digressions, referents, callbacks, creations, rhetorics and changing landscapes of GamerGate as it moved between and within online platforms, becoming a looming presence in larger discussions around representation, inclusion, culture, and society in the American zeitgeist. The dissertation works to address the challenges of a critical reading of the internet that is granular in its tracing of the complex and ever-shifting meanings of discourse online in addition to an engagement with larger flows of networked public discourse.

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Kelsey Sherrod Michael (ksm@umd.edu)

Kelsey Sherrod Michael studies the convergence of religion, gender, and race. Her dissertation, “Sunday Morning Matters: The Production of Gendered Subjects in Evangelical Life,” relies on ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of digital media forums to study the role the church worship service plays in the formation of the white evangelical woman. Kelsey holds an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a BA in English from Harding University, and a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland. She joined the American Studies program at UMD in 2015 as a doctoral student and University Flagship Fellow.

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Ashley Minner (ashley.minner@gmail.com)

Ashley Minner is a community based visual artist from Baltimore, Maryland. An enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, she has been active in the Baltimore Lumbee community for many years, and regularly visits communities throughout the U.S South and Latin America as well. Ashley is a lecturer and folklorist in the Department of American Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County, through a partnership with Maryland Traditions, Maryland’s State folklife program. She is also part-time faculty in the Masters of Fine Arts in Community Arts Program at Maryland Institute College of Art. Ashley is a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies at University of Maryland College Park. Her research concerns Baltimore’s Lumbee community and its changing relationship to the particular landscape where the community was originally established. For more information, visit ashleyminnerart.com.

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Jacqueline Beatriz Partida

Jacqueline Partida is a Ronald E. McNair fellow and a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). She received her BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Chicana/o and Feminist Studies. Her research interests include Latina/o identity formation, immigration, gender and citizenship studies. In addition, Jacqueline serves as a graduate assistant for the U.S. Latina/o Studies Program at UMD, in which she is able to assist in recruitment, advising and mentorship activities.

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Christopher J. Pérez (cperez6@umd.edu)

Christopher is a PhD candidate and holds two baccalaureate degrees in English and Women’s Studies from NMSU and a Master’s degree in American Studies from Penn State Harrisburg. His research interests include LGBTQ and Latina/o studies, immigration, and citizenship. Christopher’s dissertation, Queer Asylum: Finding Refuge in American Immigration, examines the history of LGBT immigration in the U.S. with primary ethnographic data of lesbian and gay political asylees. Christopher has taught introductory courses in popular culture and cultural studies, ethnography, film, and LGBTQ Latina/o studies. He has taught research courses in cultural diversity for American Studies at UMD and currently teaches “Advanced Study of Queer Latina/o Cultures” for LGBT Studies at UMD.

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T’Sey-Haye Preaster (tseyhaye.preaster@gmail.com)

T’Sey-Haye Preaster received her BA in Afro-American Studies and Sociology from Smith College.  T’Sey-Haye’s research interests include Black women’s history (particularly the “women’s club era,” 1896-1950); philanthropy; Black feminist theory; and the intersections and impact of race, gender, and class on cultures of giving, identity formation, and group uplift for/by Black women.

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Xinqian Qiu (poemqiu@gmail.com)

Xinqian Qiu is a PhD student in American Studies, she is also working on two Graduate Certificates “Historic Preservation” and “Museum Scholarship and Material Culture”. Prior to entering the program in 2011, she received her MA in Ceramic Art History from Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China. Her research interests involve the transformation and gentrification of ethnic communities (especially Asian Americans) in the metropolitan areas, cultural sustainability, public history, material culture, and also intangible heritage preservation. She is also interested in the U.S. China relationship as well as the political engagement and leadership development among new immigrants. Xinqian has served actively in several prominent Asian American organizations and is now the Steering Committee member of National Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation.

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Paul Saiedi (psaiedi@gmail.com)

Paul Saiedi is a PhD candidate and interdisciplinary researcher in American Studies and the University of Maryland. He received both his BA in Communications and his MA in American Studies from Cal State Fullerton. Paul’s dissertation explores the concepts of embodiment, slacktivism, and the self by examining how their meanings are negotiated on social media platforms and in light of constantly shifting rights, freedoms, and privacy. Paul also received a Women’s Studies certificate while at UMD and served for three years as the head editor of Powerlines, an interdisciplinary online journal for graduate students.

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Mary Savig (SavigM@si.edu)

Mary Savig earned her BA in Classical Humanities and Art History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her MA, in Art History from George Washington University.  Her broad research objective is to understand the historical development of craft in the 20th century and how it has functioned as an indicator of culture.

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Christina Sessoms (csessoms@umd.edu)

Christina Sessoms is a 4th year doctoral student from the metropolitan Seattle, WA area studying Black women, higher education, and joy as a resilience mechanism. She received her BA in Comparative Ethnic Studies with a focus on Black Studies and a minor in Political Science from Washington State University in May of 2015. While at UMD, Christina also serves as the graduate assistant for the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. In addition, she served on the editorial board of Powerlines, the AMST newsletter committee, and continues to be an active member of UMD’s Black Graduate Student Union. Just recently, Christina became the recipient of the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues’ 2018-2019 Women of Influence Award in recognition of her effective involvement in activities that span the spectrum of women’s issues from career advancement to sexual misconduct policies.

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Adelaida Shelley (ashelleyd@gmail.com)

Adelaida Shelley acquired her BA and MA in Social & Cultural Analysis from New York University. Her research focuses on late-19th and early-20th century land use policies in the US and Mexico, and is informed by critical race theory, Indigenous critiques of political economy, and contemporary Marxisms. She also runs the critical university studies working group and organizes for graduate worker collective bargaining rights.

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Shane Walsh (shanebwalsh@gmail.com)

Shane is a Ph.D. student in the Department of American Studies.  He earned his B.A. in Anthropology from Washington College and his M.A. in African American Studies at Morgan State University.  He has served as research assistant to the curator of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore and expects to focus his research on museum studies and material culture.

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Brian Watkins (bwatkins@umd.edu)

Brian is a part-time doctoral student in the department. His areas of interest include LGBTQ studies, race, gender, religion, and family. His research likely will focus on the social construction of family, fictive/self-selected kin as a response to oppression/exclusion, and the interplay of family and LGBTQ identity development. Brian has worked in higher education in a variety of administration and teaching roles for more than 20 years, and currently serves as the Director of Parent and Family Affairs at the University of Maryland. He is also an expert for NBC News Education Nation and an advisor for CampusESP. He frequently is invited to consult with colleges and universities, is a contributor to stories in local and national media, and is a published author on diversity issues in higher education. A first-generation college graduate, Brian earned a Master of Education degree in higher education and student affairs administration from The University of Vermont and a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in psychology from Hope College. Brian lives in Maryland with his husband, son, and their beloved pets.

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Kevin Winstead (kwins@umd.edu)

Kevin is a PhD student in American Studies. He comes to the program from Southern Illinois University where he received his BS in Marketing and his MA in Sociology. His current research interest centers around social movements, religion, the social construction of reality, and material culture. Kevin’s previous work focused on the mobilization dynamics of the civil rights movements and the subsequent Black Catholic sub movement.