Sa Whitley, the Nancy L. Buc ’65 Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Whitley is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College in the Society of Fellows.
“In these intense times, my students are very eager to think about the relationships between theory and praxis, the academy and community organizing, and rigorous study and self-care."
This statement, shared in the fall of 2020 by Nancy L. Buc ’65 Postdoctoral Fellow Sa Whitley, captures much of what makes the Pembroke Center postdoctoral fellowship program so valuable. As fellows develop their research and teaching in a supportive, interdisciplinary environment, they are able to emphasize student-centered learning and embrace the very “Brown” desire to take knowledge gained in classrooms and use it to address complex challenges. In teaching “Conversations in Transfeminism: Cultures, Theories, and Politics,” Dr. Whitley offered coursework that aligned with the scholarly mission of the Pembroke Center and met the moment that students were experiencing. In addition to grounding the difficulties of the Covid era in scholarship, Dr. Whitley found ways to use the virtual classroom to cultivate new forms of student engagement, saying, “It has been an exciting journey that invites me to reflect on and recalibrate my Black feminist pedagogy for a digital learning environment.”
Dr. Whitley also experienced the 2020-21 Pembroke Seminar, “Narrating Debt,” virtually with a group of scholars ranging from undergraduates to emeritus professors. While advancing their own research and converting their dissertation, “The Collective Come-Up: Black Queer Placemaking in Subprime Baltimore,” into a book manuscript, Dr. Whitley expanded the discussion of indebtedness in the seminar to include the experiences of Black queer women who had or still have “unpayable loans” that originated in the housing crisis of 2007-8. At the same time, they were able to enlarge their research profile and examine forms of debt and indebtedness across disciplines, cultures, and time. In addition to readings and discussions, the seminar featured research lectures by Rosalind Morris, who studies indebtedness among South African gold miners, and Judith Butler, who discussed student loan debt. Dr. Whitley also developed relationships with scholars across the University working on similar themes, like Associate Professor of Africana Studies Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, who gave the lecture “Global Housing and Land Justice as a Black Feminist Imperative.”
Furthermore, in collaboration with Pembroke Center postdoctoral fellows Nicolás Sánchez-Rodríguez and Hannah Frydman, Dr. Whitley convened top scholars for a two-day April 2021 virtual symposium, “Unsettling Accounts: Intersectional Approaches to the Politics of Debt.” This well-attended symposium examined how debt operates as a mode of social control and discipline across axes of race, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and ability. Public events like this one serve the broader community by driving scholarly discourse forward and creating new knowledge.
Dr. Whitley was a wonderful addition to the Pembroke Center community. Now, they are a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College in the Society of Fellows, where Dr. Whitley will continue working on ethnographies of capitalist urbanization and examine housing justice movements, urban planning strategies, and the politics of historic architectural preservation.