Dr Besi Muhonja holds a professorship in the Department of English as Professor of African, African American and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) and Studies on Women, Gender and Sexuality. Prior to joining the R&S team, Dr Muhonja was Director of the AAAD Study Center. Her contributions to the JMU community have been recognized with various awards including Woman of Distinction, Provost’s Award for Excellence in Inclusivity, Edna T. Shaeffer Humanist Award, Provost Faculty Diversity Curriculum Grant, Summer Research Grant, Educational Leave, Diversity Enhancement Award and Feminist Scholarship.
Dr Muhonja’s work engages the interfaces of transnationalism, gender and sexualities in the politics, identities, philosophies and products of / from Africa, the global South and the black diaspora. Using interdisciplinary and decolonial approaches, she studies and teaches African Critical Studies (a), Critical Race Studies, Critical Transnational Feminisms, Queer Studies, Ubuntu Studies and Motherhood. She is also a prominent Wangari Maathai scholar. Dr Muhonja is the author of Radical Utu: Ideas and Ideals of Wangari Maathai (Ohio University Press, 2020), Playing early childhood and femininity: the rituals of the Kenyan middle class of the 21st century (Lexington-Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and co-editor of the volumes Gender and sexuality in Senegalese societies: perspectives and critical methods (with Babacar M’baye, 2019), Mothers and sons: centering knowledge of the mother (with Wanda Bernard Thomas, 2016), and Gender and sexuality in Kenyan societies (with M’baye, to be published in 2022). She is editor-in-chief of the academic book series, Critical African Studies on Gender and Sexuality and sits on the editorial and advisory boards of various journals and organizations. She has edited three issues of leading peer-reviewed journals on Africa and Gender Critical Studies, including West Africa Review and JENdA: Journal of Culture and Studies on African Women. In addition, she has published over 25 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, recording over 50 academic lecture presentations and public lectures at major institutions in the United States and abroad.
The AVPSDEI position encourages and cultivates a wide range of research in all areas of JMU while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in research and scholarship. He also oversees support for R&S students, including external / highly competitive awards and scholarships, student research, student conferences, student study abroad, and internships.