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Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Professor of Black Studies and Asian American Studies; Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence; Director of the Asian American Studies Program and Co-Director of the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies (2017-2025)

  • 1860 Campus Drive, Crowe Hall, Room 5-133
  • Office Hours: by appointment only, make an appointment by email

Areas of Research

Black Pacific, Comparative Race Studies, Hawai‘i, Asian and Black Relations, Afro-Asian Studies, Black Studies and Native Studies, Black Popular Culture, Hip Hop Studies, South Asian American Studies, Critical Mixed Race Studies, Ethnography, Immigration and Diaspora, Race and Indigeneity


Winter 2024: Black Studies 327 “New Black Music in Chicago: Artists’ Reflections on Music, Race, and Entrepreneurship.”
Spring 2024: Asian American Studies 108, First Year Seminar: “Mixed Race Memoir.”

Current Research:

Nitasha Tamar Sharma is a comparative race studies scholar who offers an interdisciplinary, comparative, and ethnographic approach to the study of difference, inequality, and racism. The central goal of her teaching, research, and writing is to contest interminority racisms by ethnographically detailing existing models of cross-racial solidarities among nonWhite groups. By highlighting historical crossovers, comparative or relational racialization, and expansive political orientations, Sharma’s work attempts to imagine liberated futures for all people.

Nitasha Sharma is the author of Hawai'i is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific (Duke University Press, August 2021). This ethnography is based on a decade of fieldwork including interviews with 60 people of African descent in the islands, including Black Hawaiians, Black Japanese, and African American transplants from the continental U.S. Two questions frame this project: What does the Pacific offer people of African descent? And how does the racial lens of African Americans illuminate inequalities, including antiBlack racism, in the islands? Bringing Black Studies into conversation with Native Studies, it charts how Hawai‘i’s Black residents including Black hapas negotiate race, indigeneity, and culture. This work speaks to debates in Critical Mixed Race Studies, Comparative Race Studies, and Pacific Islands Studies to analyze Blackness in the Pacific and offer new theories of belonging that emerge from the intersection of race and indigeneity.

Sharma is the co-editor of Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018) and is working on a project on Black Music in the Hawaiian Islands. She is also the co-editor of a special issue of Critical Ethnic Studies Journal on “Interventions in Pacific Islands Studies and Trans-Pacific Studies,” Vol. 7, No. 2 (November 2021).

Her first book, Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness (Duke University Press 2010), analyzes how second generation members of an upwardly mobile and middle-class immigrant group use hip hop to develop racial--and not just ethnic--identities. The racial consciousness expressed by these hip hop artists as “people of color” facilitates the development of multiracial coalitions that cross boundaries while explicitly acknowledging “difference.”

Dr. Sharma is the Associate Editor of American Quarterly. Dr. Sharma teaches courses including: “Black Studies, Native Studies, Asian Settler Colonialism,” “Hip Hop Studies,”  “Asian/Black Relations in the US,” and “Introduction to Critical Mixed Race Studies.”

Select Awards:

Faculty Fellow, Council for Race and Ethnic Studies (2023-2024) 

Buffett Faculty Fellow (2023-2024)

Faculty Fellow, Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, 2021-2022

Provost Faculty Grants for Research, “Black Music in the Hawaiian Islands,” 2020-2021

The Provost Award for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Equity, 2018

Kaplan Fellow, Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, 2016-2017

National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend for ethnography on Black people in Hawai‘i (2015)

Associated Student Government Faculty Teaching Award (2007-2008, 2011-2012, 2013-2014)

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award (2013-2016)

Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Grant (2009-2010)

National Emerging Scholar, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (2009)

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award, Northwestern University (2009)

Outstanding Teaching Award, African American Studies, Northwestern University (2006-2007, 2007-2008)

Recent Publications:

Hawai‘i is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific, Duke University Press, August 2021.

“Interventions in Pacific Islands Studies and Trans-Pacific Studies,” Critical Ethnic Studies Special Issue, co-editor with Jinah Kim. Vol. 7, No. 2, 2021.

“Over Two Centuries: Black People in Nineteenth-Century Hawaiʻi,” American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 20, No. 2 (2019): 115-140.

Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i, co-editor with Rudy Guevarra and Camilla Fojas. University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018.

Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness and Global Race Consciousness. Duke University Press, 2010.

“Black Hawaiians and Race in Hawai‘i.” In Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i. Rudy Guevarra, Camilla Fojas, and Nitasha Sharma, eds. University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018.

“Feminist and Queer Afro-Asian Formations: Preface.” The Scholar & Feminist Online (S&F Online), Vol. 14, No. 3 (2018).

“Epilogue: The When and Where of Critical Mixed Race Studies,” in Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies, eds. Paul Spickard, Joanne Rondilla, and Rudy Guevarra. Rutgers University Press, Fall 2017.

“The Ethnic Studies Project: Asian American Studies and the #BLM Campus,” in Flashpoints for Asian American Studies, Cathy Schlund-Vials, ed. Fordham University Press, Forthcoming.

"Epilogue: Racialization and Resistance: The Double Bind of Post-9/11 Brown," in South Asian Racialization and Belonging after 9/11: Masks of Threat, ed. Aparajita De. Lexington Press, MD., 2016.

"Hip Hop Music-Anti/Racism-Empire: Post 9/11 Brown and a Critique of U.S. Empire," Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique. Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan, eds., 2016.

“Brown.” Keywords for Asian American Studies. Cathy Schlund-Vials, Linda Trinh Vo, and K. Scott Wong, eds. New York University Press, 2015.

“Asian Black Relations.” Asian American Society. Mary Danico, Anthony Ocampo, eds. SAGE Publications, 2014.

"Marketing MCs: South Asian American Rappers Negotiate Image, Audience, Artistic Control and Capital" Popular Music and Society. 2014.

"Pacific Revisions of Blackness: Blacks Address Race and Belonging in Hawai'."Amerasia Journal (37:3): 43-60.

"Polyvalent Voices: Ethnic and Racialized Desi Hip Hop," In Desi Rap: South Asian Americans in Hip Hop, Ajay Nair and Murali Balaji, eds. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers/Lexington Books, 2008:17-32

"Down by Law: The Effects and Responses of Copyright Restrictions on Sampling in Rap." In the Journal of Political and Legal Anthropology, May 1999.