The First Graduate of Indiana University’s Ph.D. Program in African Diaspora Studies

In 2009, Indiana University in Bloomington established a doctoral degree program in African American and African diaspora studies. This Friday, Maria Eliza Hamilton Abegunde will be the first student to be awarded a Ph.D. in the discipline at Indiana University.

Her Ph.D. dissertation, “The Arian’s Last Life,” explores unresolved ancestral emotions that manifest in the lives of descendants of slaves who were shipped to the New World from Africa. Parts of her dissertation have been published in the Kenyon Review and other publications. She has also published three collections of poetry.

“I am honored to be the first person to receive the Ph.D. in African American and African Diaspora studies at IU. I recognize that this achievement carries the responsibility to ‘do good’ and to ‘be the change’ for my ancestors, the communities that have lovingly supported me, and for myself,” Dr. Abegunde said. “It also reiterates the ways in which black studies continues to be a relevant discipline and practice that can offer creative research-based solutions for understanding and healing historical traumas.”

Dr. Abegunde is a graduate of Northwestern University. She holds a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies from DePaul University in Chicago. After receiving her doctoral degree, Dr. Abegunde will serve as a summer scholar at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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