Hi! My name is Mary McNeil (she/her), and I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the American Studies Program at Harvard University. I am a graduate of Wheelock College (2014; History and American Studies) and an alum of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (2014-2015 cohort).
My dissertation, "'To Make A Political Place for Ourselves': Black Power and Red Power Claims to Boston," examines Black, Native, and Afro-Native relationships to land in Boston at the height of the Black Power and Red Power movements. It asks: What meanings did Black, Native, and Afro-Native peoples assign to Massachusetts in the decade preceding the United States’ bicentennial? What critiques did they proffer of the state as a crucial site in the development of an anti-Black, settler-colonial nation? How did these groups seize upon the era’s movements for Black self-determination and Indigenous sovereignty to make claims to space in the city? Where did these geographical critiques and spatial claims enable the potential for solidarities to emerge, and where did they create spaces of contestation?
While in graduate school, I have taught and TFed courses on Atlantic slavery; race and power in urban classrooms; social media and Black feminist critique; the Black radical tradition, and Black and Indigenous social movements. I have also served as a co-organizer of the American Studies Workshop; a co-founder and co-organizer of the Race and Ethnicity Working Group; a diversity admissions liaison for the American Studies program; a Summer Research Opportunities at Harvard graduate student mentor; and a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship graduate student mentor. Keenly invested in public humanities, I have served as a researcher for Tufts University's African American Trail Project and a scholar-in-residence at the Framingham History Center. My research has been supported by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, the Mellon Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute, and the Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP).
Currently, I am an Ann Plato Dissertation Fellow at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. I also recently joined the board of the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, MA and the advisory council for the Mellon Foundation-funded "Just Futures" initiative entitled "Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom."
I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and am an enrolled member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.