East Africa and the African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World

Creating a vibrant intellectual space for faculty and students to engage through research, coursework, conference panels, workshops, and public lectures in the histories, cultures, and societies of Ethiopia and East Africa as part of the Indian Ocean world within the global African Diaspora. A project of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program and Lloyd International Honors College.


L to R: Dr. Omar Ali, Dr. Elizabeth Perrill, Dr. David Aarons, Dr. Becky Muich, Dr. Neelofer Qadir, Dr. Hewan Girma, and Dr. Andrew Mbuvi



Hewan Girma, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, AADS), Co-Coordinator, is a sociologist who examines how different class-based, gendered, and ethno-racial identities factor into the motivations and experiences of voluntary return migrants in Ethiopia. The author of “Language, Culture and Hierarchies of Migration” in International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, her major projects in progress include a monograph, Migrant Ethiopia: Displacement and Belonging, a second book, The Global Ethiopian Diaspora, co-edited with Shimelis Gulema and Mulugeta Dinbabo, and a book chapter entitled “Amharic Names and Ethiopian Naming Ceremonies.”


Omar H. Ali, Ph.D. (Professor, AADS/History/Honors), Co-Coordinator, is a historian of the global African Diaspora who looks at issues of power, black agency, and Islam in the Indian Ocean world. The author of Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery Across the Indian Ocean (Oxford University Press) and Islam in the Indian Ocean World (Bedford/St. Martin’s), he curated the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library digital exhibit The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World. Dr. Ali also serves as Dean of Lloyd International Honors College at UNC Greensboro. He will be co-teaching a course in Fall 2020 with Dr. Girma entitled “Ethiopia in the Global African Diaspora.”


David A. Aarons, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Ethnomusicology) conducts ethnographic research focusing on Rastafarians who have ‘returned’ to Ethiopia from Jamaica and other parts of the world in the belief that Ethiopia is their Promised Land. He specifically investigates the ways in which these repatriated Rastafari use reggae music as a tool to assert that they belong in a country that has only recently developed a policy to process their residency status. He is the author of “Feeling Reggae Together in Ethiopia,” in Voices from Around the World.



Neelofer Qadir, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, IGS/English) is working on Afrasian Imaginaries: Global Capitalism and Labor Migration in Indian Ocean Fictions, which examines 20th and 21st century cultural texts from African and Asian Indian Ocean communities to argue that the these communities with their millennia long history of trade and exchange have important contributions to make in our understanding of structures and effects of capitalism. She is the author of “Migritude‘s Decolonial Lessons” in Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies and co-translated into Urdu of “The Upright Revolution” by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, appearing in Jalada Translation Issue.


Cerise Glenn-Manigault, Ph.D. (AADS/Communication Studies) explores issues of cultural identity and identity negotiation among black communities, culture and communication, occupational socialization and identification of diverse groups, organizational culture, and third wave/intersectional feminism in the African Diaspora. Dr. Glenn also serves as Director of African American and African Diaspora Studies.



Elizabeth Perrill, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Art History) specializes in South African contemporary art and ceramics and Zimbabwean stone sculpture. She served as a consulting-curator of African Art with the North Carolina Museum of Art and is committed to the use of focused life-histories as an ethical research model that can integrate artists’ contributions to the research process. Dr. Perrill also serves as Director of the Humanities Network and Consortium at UNC Greensboro.



Andrew Mbuvi, Ph.D. (Lecturer, Religious Studies) focuses on Biblical studies and hermeneutics and has taught a range of courses, including “Introduction to African Cultures and Theology” and “New Testament Exegetical Methods.” A former Duke University Divinity School fellow, he is the author of Temple, Exile and Identity in 1 Peter and “The Ancient Mediterranean Values of ‘Honour and Shame’ as a Hermeneutical Lens of Reading the Book of Job,” in the journal Old Testament Essays.



Becky Muich, Ph.D. (Honors/Classical Studies) is a classical philologist whose research focuses on the way warfare shapes narratives about ancient societies, specifically in the construction of gender. She researches Greek epic and tragedy, focusing on the Trojan War. She designed a course entitled “Africans in the Greco-Roman World” for the Honors College and is currently working on a documentary source book entitled Africans in the Greco-Roman World: Biographies in History and Myth. Dr. Muich also serves as Assistant Dean of Lloyd International Honors College.


Additional Faculty:

Noelle Morrissette, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, English/AADS)
Kathleen S. MacFie, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, LLC/IGS)




Dr. Sarah Derbew, Harvard Society of Fellows, lecture “Parsing Blackness in Greek Antiquity,” event co-sponsored with AADS, Classical Studies, and Lloyd International Honors College. (Photo: L to R, Dr. Omar Ali, Dr. Becky Much, Dr. Sarah Derbew, Prof. Michael Cauthen, and Dr. Hewan Girma).


Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, visit with AADS and Honors students from “Africans in the Greco-Roman World” AADS/Honors class with Dr. Muich and Dr. Ali and student from NC State University, through Mellon funding support













Dr. Hewan Girma, Conversation with the Community, “Adwa: The Pride of the Black World,” co-sponsored with AADS and Lloyd International Honors College. February 27, 2020










Dr. David Aarons “From Jah Rastafari to Ras Tafari: The Glocalization of Reggae Music in Ethiopia through Negotiations of Proximity,” co-sponsored by the School of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology. Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 4 p.m., Music Building Room 235.










The Ethiopian and East African Studies Project and Ahmedabad Sidi Heritage and Educational Center, India, multi-volume book project with editors from The University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Chicago, and the University of California Irvine.

Afro-South Asia in the Global African Diaspora, 3 Vols.

Edited by Omar H. Ali, Kenneth X. Robbins, Beheroze Shroff, and Jazmin Graves










The Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University

International Journal of Ethiopian Studies

The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World, Schomburg Center, NYPL

Global South Studies, University of Virginia

Indian Ocean in World History, Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center


UNCG Research Magazine – Fall 2019

“Humanities Now: A New Conversation”
Africans in the Greco-Roman World

Dr. Cerise Glenn (standing with book) with Dr. Becky Muich and Dr. Omar Ali (holding Roman swords, courtesy of Dr. Jonathan Zarecki)