Hi! My name is Mary McNeil, and I am a PhD Candidate in the Program in American Studies 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). I read, write, and teach about Black Feminism(s), Black Social Movement Studies, and Afro-Native Studies.
My prospective dissertation, To Make A Political Place for Ourselves: Black Power, Black Arts, and Black Feminist Women’s Organizing in Boston, examines black women's place-making and space-taking practices in Boston during the "long" Black Power Era. In honing in on the Boston story, I hope to highlight the contextually specific ways in which Black Power politics operated and black women carved out leadership spaces for themselves. I also seek to follow the charges of scholars such as Jama Lazerow, Yohuru Williams, Rhonda Y. Williams, and Hasan Kwame Jeffries who encourage us to move beyond stories of Black Power that merely focus on the Black Power "hubs" of New York/Newark and Oakland. My project incorporates methodological frameworks from social history, political thought, black feminism, geography and urban studies, and literary studies, and I utilize oral history, archival research, and close reading as methods. I have had the opportunity to present portions of my work at the National Women's Studies Association's Annual Convention, and my research has been supported by fellowships from Harvard's Schlesinger Library and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
While in graduate school, I have taught and TFed courses on Atlantic Slavery, Social Movements of the Sixties, Race and Power in Urban Classrooms, Social Media and Black Feminist Critique, and Hip-Hop. 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. Currently, I am a researcher for Tufts University's African American Trail Project and a fellow in Tufts' 2019-2020 Mellon-Sawyer Fellowship, "Defamiliarizing the Family: Genealogy and Kinship as Critical Method."