Ph.D. in History, Northwestern University, 2023
M.A. in History, Northwestern University, 2018
MSc in African Studies, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, 2017
B.A. in Political Science and History (Honors), University of Notre Dame, 2016
In 2019, I was named the inaugural winner of the Ghana Studies Association’s Conference Paper Prize for Emerging Scholars at the African Studies Association Conference in Boston. The following year, I received the Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship and the Fulbright Fellowship to support my research work in Grenada, Suriname, Ghana, Senegal, and England. In the Fall of 2021, I published my first article in the Journal of African American History, the oldest and leading scholarly journal in the field of African American history. The following fall, I published my second article in the African Studies Review, the flagship scholarly journal of the African Studies Association.
My research is not simply an intellectual exercise; it is and remains a deeply personal project. Here is an interview I conducted at the University of Oxford, where I spoke about what inspires my research.
Ayi Kwei Armah, Prominent Ghanian Writer
My first book project, The Black Star Lines: Nkrumahist Scholars and Pan-Africanism 1960-1980, examines Ghanaian intellectuals who worked to transform and radicalize the study of Africa in academic and intellectual centers around the Atlantic. The project weaves together local and transnational histories around the Atlantic based on more than four years of archival research and oral interviews in Ghana, Senegal, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It contends that networks of intellectuals produce and advance radical scholarship even if their country of origin opposes it. Beginning with the military overthrow of President Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, I examine how Ghana became increasingly hostile to intellectuals close to Nkrumah.
Consequently, many Nkrumah-inspired scholars found intellectual homes abroad, including at the UN-funded development institute IDEP (Institut Africain de Développement Economique et de Planification) in Dakar and in American universities and colleges. These academics helped shape the development of Black Studies in the United States. Their efforts to stimulate a global movement of Black consciousness extended into the Caribbean and South America as well, reaching places like Grenada and Suriname.
In exile, these Nkrumah-influenced scholars maintained firm ties with their counterparts who remained in Ghana. Their actions and seminal ideas also reimagine Africa and its diaspora as a terrain of unified political action and intellectual research. Their stories offer insight into the circulation and influence of Black internationalist thought and organizing within and outside of Africa. My project, thus, shifts historiographical attention from the Ghanaian state as the custodian of radical politics to transnational networks of Ghanaian intellectuals whose thought and initiative furthered radical Black internationalism and forged innovative approaches to African Diaspora Studies through the 1970s and well into the 1980s. Nkrumah’s overthrow marked a moment of grass-roots transformation and the advent of a new field rather than heralding a period of intellectual decline and stagnation. My work uses a ground-level study of transnational Black radicalism to enrich the sociology of knowledge production.
Field Research Sites: Ghana, England, Senegal, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, France, and Suriname
Augmented Curiosities: Virtual Play in African Pasts and Futures
This makarapa was hand-crafted from a hard hat as fan memorabilia for the Ghanaian National Soccer team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
A makarapa is a hand-cut and hand-painted hard hat worn by sports fans. Originally used as protection from projectiles thrown during matches, the articles have become prevalent representations of South African sports culture.
The word makarapa means "scrapers", referring to rural workers who commute to cities and "scrape" a livelihood in mining and construction industries. The laborers returned home wearing the hard hats - which were eventually referred to as makarapas.
Chasing the Ball: Reflections on Football and African Identity
The exhibition “Chasing the Ball” explores the contradicting themes in the world of football such as citizenship, racism, human rights, corruption, and national unity.
Teaching and Mentorship
My goal in life is to change the face of academia by mentoring and exposing students from underrepresented groups to educational careers and opportunities that they might not have been aware of. Mentorship has had a profound impact on my life. My middle school history teacher, Mr. Spielman, was an inspiration and a model. Our conversations outside of class stimulated my interest in the history of colonialism and subaltern resistance. They motivated me to learn more about how marginalized people used traditional strategies like ritual and song to critique and resist colonial domination. Our exchanges shaped my vision of what an engaged and inclusive pedagogy could be. I aim to provide similar opportunities for students to see themselves and their histories reflected in their education. Given my experiences, I am committed to making sure that I am accessible to students and that they feel comfortable enough in my classroom to express themselves and explore different ideas. Giving back is my way of showing appreciation for the sacrifices my family, mentors, and institutions have made to help me succeed. As my father always reminds me, true enrichment comes when your life can empower others. I can think of no more enriching career than that of an educator.
Selected Student Evaluations
“Bright is amazing. He is the best TA I’ve ever had here, and I think the best I will ever have. I could listen to him talk all day long—truly. My entire discussion section was just infatuated by him. The day we had read Nkrumah for class, Bright talked for nearly the full 50 minutes, and he apologized because he wanted to hear our thoughts, but all of us just wanted to hear him talk to us about anything and everything we knew. He’s hoping to teach a class here in two years, and I will 100% taking it, even if it means taking a 5th class. He’s so fascinating, honest, real and understanding. I want all the success in the world for him. Bright, we loved you. Truly.”
“Bright was very helpful throughout the quarter and was very knowledgeable on a lot of different topics in history. It was very interesting when we talked about Kwame Nkrumah and his legacy, especially since Bright is Ghanaian. It was also very helpful of Bright when he facilitated conversations in the discussion section and asked questions that put the reading in another perspective and let us understand it more. Bright also went to extreme lengths to help, including meeting with me during the weekend to help on the big paper that we had to write and was also available through email as well. Bright was always available.”
“Bright was a great TA. He facilitated really great discussions on the readings and knew when it was a good time to lend his voice to the conversation. Bright's passion about the history covered in this class furthered my excitement towards the material and made me want to learn more. I really felt that Bright cared about what each student had to say and he emphasized how important it was to learn from the different perspectives around the classroom. Having Bright as a TA has made me want to take more African history classes, as well, because his passion towards his studies was really inspiring.”
“Bright was such a great TA, and one of the best I’ve ever had. He led sections so well, and knew when to give students a push or a helping hand when we got stuck during discussions. He knew so much about the subject and was involved and prepared for each section. He also graded fairly and gave good feedback on assignments. I hope I have him as my TA in the future.”
“BRIGHT IS THE BEST TA I HAVE EVER HAD! He was smart, always prepared, beloved by the students in our small study group, and added really interesting insight. He is also very willing to help with any questions you might have and is very funny and personable.”