University of Rochester
Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African American Studies

Current Fellows at the FDI

Kathryn Mariner

Post-doctoral Fellows 2015-2016

Kate Mariner received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago and her B.A. in Anthropological Sciences from Stanford University.  She holds a M.A. in clinical social work from the University of Chicago.  Her research examines the confluence of intimacy, inequality, and temporality within the context of American adoption.
Kate's current book project, Speculative Kinship: The Flows and Futures of Private Agency Adoption in the United States, argues that infant adoption is a highly contested mode of both building and dissolving imagined futures, entailing complex forms of circulation, investment, and affective engagement. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted at a small non-profit private adoption agency in Chicago between 2009 and 2014, Speculative Kinship explores adoption as a powerful lens on the question of who can have a future in the United States, and who cannot.  Speculative Kinship's focus on the behind-the-scenes work of adoption—the process itself rather than the adoptive family as its il/logical outcome—provides insight into the practice’s fraught conditions of possibility: unequal material realities of both expectant and prospective parents, entrenched yet precarious institutional structures, multiple forms of abandonment, and entangled ideologies of kinship, race, and class. 
Samira Abdur-Rahman
Samira Abdur-Rahman earned her BA in English and Africana Studies and a PhD in English Literature from Rutgers University. She holds a MA in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University.
 Her current book project, Sites of Instruction: Black Childhood and the Geography of Education,
explores the construction and performance of black childhood from the post-bellum period to
twentieth century works of civil rights fiction and memoir. Reading across generic boundaries, the manuscript examines black writers' preoccupation with childhood and narratives of education as a
means to mark dominant structures of race, knowledge and space. Sites of Instruction contends that narratives of black childhood enable writers to map ulterior imaginings of place, self and futurityHer research interests include 19th and 20th century African American Literature, childhood studies, literary geography and autobiography studies.