Kimberly Simmons, assoc. prof., of African American Studies and anthropology, has been named interim director of the Institute for African American Research (IAAR).
The institute was established in 2007 as a working initiative to encourage the scholarly study and public understanding of all facets of race and black life in the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora.
The institute was officially approved in 2009 by the university’s board of directors and the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
Simmons said, as the interim director, she has exciting plans for the institute in the coming year.
“I look forward to building on the successes of the Institute such as the graduate student and faculty fellowships and invited talks. Along these lines, I’m working on an undergraduate research initiative to involve students in research projects focusing on the African American experience. In addition to promoting and encouraging research, I’m establishing a working paper series with Scholar Commons and pursuing other efforts to advance scholarship. I’m also pursuing collaborative efforts with other units on campus such as the Center for Civil Rights History and Research and the African American Studies Program.”
In addition to her new duties, Simmons, formerly an associate dean in the Honors College, focuses much of her research on women’s organizations, Afro-Dominican and African American culture and experiences, and the cultural construction of identity in the African Diaspora, focusing on African Americans and Afro-Latinos.
“Given my background, research, and interest in the African Diaspora, I would like to expand the Institute’s research initiatives to incorporate more aspects of the African Diaspora. This would involve interdisciplinary research opportunities in the United States and abroad for faculty and students and partnerships with key organizations/institutions for collaborative projects,” Simmons said.
Simmons is currently working on two book projects (a book on African American culture and another on Afro-Dominican culture, identity and the politics of natural hair).