Joshua Williams

Dissertation Fellow
2015-2016
Joshua Williams

In his dissertation project, “Don’t Show A Hyena How Well You Can Bite: Performance, Race and the Animal Subaltern in Eastern Africa,” Joshua Williams focuses on the animal in the political and performance history of colonial and postcolonial East Africa. He begins his analysis with sites of colonial power such as white amateur theaters and natural history societies. Williams sets the complex repertory of performance practices with which late colonialism sought to master the wild and its beasts alongside the efforts of evolutionary biologists to establish the prehistory of humankind in the East African fossil record. This assemblage of practices, performances, and discourses hinged on a subsumption of black life into animality, which, in turn, legitimated the colonial expropriation of native land. Williams goes on to consider black anti-colonialist counter-claims on the category of the human and the ramifications of that struggle in cultural production and social life.

Joshua Williams is the 2015-16 Albert Lepawsky Memorial Fellow.