Christopher Tinson, assistant professor of African American studies, earned a Ph.D. from the W.E.B. Du Bois department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He holds an M.A. in ethnic studies from San Francisco State University and a B.A. from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
His interdisciplinary research and teaching focuses on the intersections between Africana radical traditions, U.S. ethnic studies, hip-hop culture, critical media studies, incarceration, community-based education, and race and sports. His writings have been published in The Black Scholar, The Journal of African American History, The Nation, and Radical Teacher. He currently resides in Holyoke, Massachusetts and has conducted workshops at various college campuses, high schools, and juvenile detention centers in the area, and serves as a youth mentor. Since 2006 he has hosted TRGGR Radio, a Hip-Hop-rooted social justice radio program.
His recently taught courses include Cultures of the African Diaspora, Black Radicalism in the U.S. and Beyond, 1960s and 1970s; and Framing Blackness: African Americans and Mass Media in the U.S. In addition to establishing an introductory African American Studies course, his new courses include: The Life and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois; Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing, Imprisonment and the Politics of Control; and African Americans and the Politics of Reparations.
W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the Twentieth Century's most important intellectual and political figures. His writings, which span from the turn of the century until the Civil Rights era, are still some of the most quoted, referenced, and anthologized. This course will examine the public and private life of Du Bois, through a critical evaluation of his contributions as an organizer, race theorist, cultural critic, political journalist, public intellectual, and family man. How did Du Bois impact the study of global black experiences? How might he fit within a Black Radical Tradition? What was/is the impact of his ideas on race and race leadership? To what degree can we consider him an American intellectual? And finally, how are Du Bois' ideas applicable to the contemporary political environment? This course will engage these and other critical questions through close readings of published and unpublished writings by and about Du Bois during his day and long after.
Racial reparations have been and continue to be one of the most explosive contemporary issues. Some argue that this country's history of enslavement renders some form of reparations necessary to the quest for social justice; that understanding reparations is central to honest conversations about race and racism. Others argue that reparations for past injustices such as slavery are unfair. Still others refuse to discuss the topic altogether. This course is concerned with the historic and contemporary reparations debate as it pertains to African Americans and other oppressed groups seeking repair for historic injustice. We will pay close attention to how historians, artists, legal scholars, political scientists, grassroots community activists and legislators have approached this issue, and gauge its relevance in our so-called "post-racial" moment.
Professor and activist Angela Davis recently asked "Are prisons obsolete?" And Grier and Cobb once noted "No imagination is required to see this scene as a direct remnant of slavery." Since the 1980s state and federal authorities have increasingly relied on the costly and unsuccessful use of jails and prisons as deterrents of crime. This upper division course will grapple with ideas of incarceration and policing methods that contribute to the consolidation of state power and how it functions as a form of domestic warfare. This course takes a close look at how race (especially), but also class, gender, age and background intersect in shaping attitudes and perceptions towards incarceration and often determine who is incarcerated and who is not. While a number of individuals and organizations continue to push for prison abolition, dependence on advance methods of incarceration persists. As such, we will analyze the historic and contemporary tensions between incarceration and ideals of democracy, citizenship, family, community and freedom. Topics will include: criminalization, racial profiling, surveillance, and police brutality. This course will also acquaint students with many of the active local and national reform and abolition initiatives. It is expected that students have taken an introductory African American Studies or a U.S. history course prior to enrolling in this course. This course may include a community engagement component, site visit, or field trips.
This course will familiarize students with histories of African enslavement throughout the Americas. We will explore critical aspects of the roots and routes of enslavement and consider displacement, dislocation, dehumanization, and resilience of African peoples in the New World. This course, designed for first and second-year students, yet suitable for third and fourth-year students with an interest in diaspora studies, will pursue several questions: What is the world that slavery made? What strategies of survival did enslaved people employ? How has slavery impacted conceptions of nation, shaped formations of borders, and facilitated the "making of the Atlantic world?" Focusing chiefly on the U.S., the Caribbean, and Brazil, we will take an interdisciplinary approach that includes history, literature, and politics in our pursuit of slavery's relevance to contemporary debates about race, nation, community and belonging.
This course will explore the history, ideas, voices and strategies African Americans employed in the struggle to secure rights and demand respect in the United States in the 1960s and 70s. This includes an exploration into the relationship between politics and the arts; the articulation of a black aesthetic; black performance politics; radical imaginaries, and print culture through the seminal theorists, artists, and activists of the period. While this course is centered on the struggles waged by Black people in the U.S., students will also grapple with the international events that influenced the radical politics of the period, as well as international locations of black communities (especially the Caribbean and Britain) impacted by U.S.-based social justice claims. Utilizing an array of primary documents from the period, and important secondary texts this course will deepen students understanding of the Black Power/Arts vision of social justice and trace the impact of these movements from the present day from the emergence of Black Studies departments to Hip-Hop culture.
This course will deepen students' knowledge of the African diaspora through the study of what some scholars have called "Africanisms," a broad term that seeks to capture the wide array of technical skills, artistic practices, religious and spiritual beliefs, philosophies, linguistic patterns, and epistemologies that derive from the African continent and take root around the world. Though many of these practices continue in the present day, they are as likely to be found throughout the African diaspora in places such as the Panamanian city Coln, the Brazilian state of Bahia, and New York City as they are in Africa. In this course we will interrogate such concepts as "survivals," "retentions," and "the black Atlantic," and study critical debates between such major figures as E. Franklin Frazier, Melville Herskovitz, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ruth Simms Hamilton, Sheila S. Walker, Joseph E. Harris and others over the meaning of African culture in the New World.
In the 1970s artist Gil Scott Heron announced, "the revolution will not be televised." In the 1990s critic bell hooks observed a direct relationship between oppressive images via mass media and the maintenance of global white supremacy. And today, professor Jared Ball writes, "all that is popular is fraudulent." This course takes these perspectives into serious consideration while exploring the complex relationship between African Americans and the function of mass media in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Using an African American Studies interdisciplinary framework that incorporates political history as well as popular culture, this course begs the question of how media influences the perception of Black people in the U.S. and the world. Importantly, this course will also look at contemporary visionary efforts to challenge dominant stereotypic images of African Americans and communities of color in the media and their participation in current media justice efforts.
Assistant Professor of African American Studies
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall SS
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002