Sophia Azeb

Assistant Professor
Walker 411
Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2016
Teaching at UChicago since 2018
Research Interests: African American Literature and Black studies | Postcolonial/Decolonial | Cultural Studies | Translation | Theories of Diaspora and Decolonization | Global Anglophone


My research engages how Blackness and Black identity is variously translated, mobilized, and circulated by African American, African, and Afro-Arab cultural figures in North Africa and Europe in the twentieth century. I am particularly interested in how variable and contested articulations and translations of Blackness and Black identity from across the Atlantic, Sahara, and Mediterranean are imagined, lived, and debated in Anglophone, Francophone, and Arabophone cultural spheres –primarily literature, music, and African cultural festivals -before and during the Cold War and Non-Aligned era.

In my current book project, Another Country: Constellations of Blackness in Afro-Arab Cultural Expression, I read canonical texts on Blackness, pan-African, and pan-Arab identity by such figures as Claude McKay, Youssef el-Sebai, Frantz Fanon, and Shirley and David Graham Du Bois alongside heretofore untranslated or mistranslated cultural archives thatreveal the extent to which conceptions of Arabness and Blackness have long been entangled in the cultural and political constellations of the African diaspora.

In relation with and in addition to this ongoing work, my teaching and research interests include the study of African Diasporic cultures and politics; transnational and translational Blackness; memory studies; representations of war in graphic novels and film; literature, visual arts, and poetics of disaster, particularly in relation to Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora; nationalism and statelessness; the intersections of race and sport; and Third Worldism.

I am also the current Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies BA program.

(2021-2022 CRES course offerings)


  • Narrating Diasporas (undergraduate)

  • Black Speculative Fiction (undergraduate)

  • Readings in Exile (graduate)

  • Black Studies Research Methods (graduate)

  • Third World Women’s Writing (graduate)

  • The Afro-Arab World (graduate)

Selected Publications

“Pan-African Performance and Possibility in North Africa: Lessons from Algiers 1969.” The Funambulist no. 32, “Pan-Africanism” (Nov-Dec 2020): 28-33

Epilogue: “From Antigua to Algérie: The Particularity and Promise of the Afro-Arab.” Post45 Contemporaries, essay cluster on “Extraordinary Renditions,” ed. Kalyan Nadiminti (September 2020)

“Crossing the Saharan Boundary: Lotus and the Legibility of Africanness.” Research in African Literatures vol. 50 no. 3 (2019): 91-117.

“Who will we be when we are free? On Palestine and Futurity.” The Funambulist no. 24, “Futurisms.” (July-August 2019): 22-27.