Harvard Divinity School (HDS) is pleased to announce the appointment of two scholars of Africana Studies and African American Religious Studies to the HDS faculty.
Dr. Tracey E. Hucks will join HDS as Victor S. Thomas Professor of Africana Religious Studies and Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Dr. Ahmad Greene-Hayes will join HDS as Assistant Professor of African American Religious Studies. Their appointments begin July 1, 2022.
“I am excited to welcome both Dr. Hucks and Dr. Greene-Hayes to our faculty,” said Dean David N. Hempton in a message to the HDS community. “Their remarkable and substantial strengths as researchers and teachers will greatly enhance the faculty, including our curricular offerings, scholarship, and support of students in African diasporic and African American Religious Studies.”
Hucks is a nationally known and esteemed scholar of Africana Studies and American Religious History. She has served most recently as Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Colgate University where she has been James A. Storing Professor of Religion and Africana and Latin American Studies. Hucks previously taught at Davidson College, where she was the James D. Vail III Professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department, and at Haverford College. In 1995, she was a resident graduate scholar at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. A graduate of Colgate University, she earned her AM and PhD from Harvard University in 1998.
“My spiritual geography, as one colleague named it, has guided me back to Harvard. As I embark on a new venture of training masters and doctoral students, I invoke the spirit of a great mentor, Dr. Charles H. Long, who believed the training of minds in our field was a sacred vocation and the classroom as the generative locus of this work. I return to my alma mater at a moment of great opportunity for building, alongside my HDS, Radcliffe, and other colleagues, a premier academic and research program in Africana Religious Studies. I embrace this opportunity with new vision and gratitude,” says Hucks.
Hucks is the author of Yoruba Traditions and African American Religious Nationalism, which was published in 2012 and was a finalist for the American Academy of Religion First Book Award and the Journal of Africana Religions Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize. Hucks is currently at work on several book projects, including, Obeah, Orisa and Religious Identity in Trinidad: Volume One: Africans in the White Colonial Imagination which is scheduled for release in October by Duke University Press. Working with Dr. Dianne Stewart, MDiv ’93, who authored Volume Two, the two-volume study theorizes the prominent role of Africana religious cultures in the shaping of diaspora identities. Hucks has conducted research in several countries, including Brazil, Cuba, Nigeria, England, France, Trinidad, Jamaica, Kenya, and Tanzania. In addition to her numerous awards, fellowships, and distinctions, she was also an elected member of the Program Committee of the American Academy of Religion, elected member of the Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and is currently a member of the Corporation of Haverford College.
“This is a high-powered appointment that places HDS as a leading school for training graduate and undergraduates in African American religious studies,” says Jacob Olupona, Professor of African Religious Traditions and search committee chair for the Victor S. Thomas professorship. “Professor Hucks is a brilliant, admirable, and personable scholar and deep thinker. As a historian of religion and specialist in African American and African diaspora religion, Tracey’s coming to HDS fulfills our long desire and interest to build at Harvard a dream team in African and African American religious studies that is unmatched by any other institution in the United States and the world.
“I have observed Tracey’s career and scholarship for over three decades and found her to be a well-rounded and well-grounded scholar with impressive track records in teaching, mentoring, and publications. Tracey has so much to offer our students, and we cannot wait to see her join our faculty next session!”
Greene-Hayes is one of the most exciting scholars amongst a dynamic new generation of scholars of African American Religious Studies. He is currently Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Religious Studies at Northwestern University. A social historian of religion, he earned his BA from Williams College, and his MA and PhD from Princeton University in 2021.
“I am excited to join the HDS community, and to especially be a part of a cluster of new faculty members at the institution who study Black religions,” says Greene-Hayes. “I believe that my research agenda in African American religious history will be strengthened by being situated and aligned in an institutional context that centers the material and immaterial reality of diverse religious expressions and beliefs. As a historian and critical theorist, these ideas significantly shape and guide my engagement with the archives of Black religious and sexual cultures in the afterlife of slavery, and I look forward to deepening my research and teaching at HDS in this regard.”
Greene-Hayes's research interests include critical Black Studies, Black Atlantic Religions in the Americas, and race, queerness, and sexuality in the context of African American and Caribbean histories. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled, Gods of the Flesh: Black Atlantic Religion-Making in Jim Crow New Orleans, which examines the Black Atlantic religious cultures and sexual politics that emerged in New Orleans—a vibrant, American port city—amidst Jim Crow policing and the migration of African Americans, West Indians, and Central Americans to the region in the early twentieth century. Greene-Hayes is a steering committee member for both the Afro-American Religious History Unit and the Religion and Sexuality Unit of the American Academy of Religion.
“We are so delighted to welcome Dr. Ahmad Greene-Hayes to our faculty,” says David Lamberth, Professor of Philosophy and Theology and search committee chair for the African American Religious Studies professorship. “He is already a leading contributor and one of the most exciting and interesting scholars among a large cohort of excellent junior candidates in African American Religious Studies right now. An interdisciplinary historian and critical theorist, Dr. Greene-Hayes will not only bring us strength across the span of African American religious history, but also expertise and depth in studies of the religious complexity of African American religion in the South, as well as a critical, creative voice engaged with questions of queering methodological and theoretical approaches in the field.
“I expect Dr. Greene-Hayes to bring a terrific range of offerings to our curriculum, offering courses on such topics as race, sexuality and religion, and African American religious history, as well as teaching focused on Black Atlantic religions in the South. His interests in Black Studies and in queering conversations about method in the study of African American religions will greatly expand the possibilities for students here at HDS.”
—HDS Office of Communications