May 10, 2012

Professor Gerard Aching named Africana director

Gerard Aching
Aching

Gerard Aching, M.A. '90, Ph.D. '91, professor of Spanish and French literature and a member of the graduate fields of African and African-American and Latin American studies, has been appointed director of the Africana Studies and Research Center.

His three-year term, to begin July 1, results from a canvassing of the Africana faculty. Earlier this semester, the faculty voted unanimously to make Aching a full professor in their department, also starting July 1.

"He's an accomplished scholar who will bring stability to the Africana Center as we move forward," says Robert Harris, professor and director of undergraduate studies for Africana.

"Gerard Aching's appointment is great and welcome news at this exciting juncture in the development of the field of Africana," wrote Salah Hassan, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Africana and professor of history of art, in an email from Uganda. "He brings to the job a formidable record of scholarship and administrative experience. He is the right person to lead Africana, considering his status as a prolific scholar at the cutting edge of theories of literature, modernities and visuality in the context of the Caribbean, adding strength to a growing area of study within the center and the university at large."

"I very much look forward to working with Africana's talented faculty and bright students," Aching says. "The Africana Studies and Research Center's eminent history and achievements provide a solid foundation for new scholarship and teaching opportunities. It will be exciting to undertake and facilitate collective initiatives in the context of this tradition and the new faculty who will begin to join us in the fall."

Aching's research expertise is in 19th- and 20th-century Caribbean literature and intellectual histories, theories of modernism and modernity in Latin America and 19th-century colonial literature in the Caribbean, with a specific focus on the relations among slavery, literary sensibility and philosophy. He is the author of "The Politics of Spanish American Modernismo: By Exquisite Design" (1997) and "Masking and Power: Carnival and Popular Culture in the Caribbean" (2002). He has completed a book-length manuscript called "Freedom from Liberation: Slavery and Literary Sensibility in Cuba" and has recently embarked on a new research project on just war theory, sovereignty and the beginnings of slavery in the Americas.

Aching, who earned his bachelor's in political science at the University of California-Berkeley and master's and Ph.D. in the field of Romance studies at Cornell, joined the faculty in 2009. At New York University from 1996 to 2009, Aching was an assistant to full professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, which he ultimately chaired. At Cornell, he will continue to serve as director of the College of Arts and Sciences' Mellon Diversity Fellowship Seminar.

Among other honors, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.