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Executive Committee of ALARA

Dr. Sheridan Wigginton

California Lutheran University



Sheridan Wigginton is a Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and served as chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures from 2011 to 2017.

She became a member of ALARA in 2004 and was named President of the organization in 2016.

Since the early 2000s, her research has focused on the connections between education, race, ethnicity, and national identity in Latin America—specifically exploring how these issues impact Afro-descendants in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Wigginton, along with Richard T. Middleton IV, is the author of Unmastering the Script: Education, Critical Race Theory, and the Struggle to Reconcile the Haitian Other in Dominican Identity (University of Alabama Press, 2019)

Dr. Antonio D. Tillis

Rutgers University - Camden



Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D., is the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) and the M.D. Anderson Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston (UH). As the chief academic and administrative officer of CLASS, he oversees 13 academic departments, 10 academic areas and programs, 13 academic centers, six clinical service units, and over 688 faculty members. CLASS is the largest and most diverse of the 15 academic colleges on the UH campus, with an annual graduating population of nearly 12,000 students.

Dr. Tillis received his Ph.D. in Latin American literature with an Afro-Hispanic emphasis from the University of Missouri. He also holds an M.A. in Spanish literature from Howard University and a B.S. in Spanish from Vanderbilt University.

Prior to joining UH, Dr. Tillis served as dean of the School of Languages, Culture and World Affairs at the College of Charleston, chair of African and African American Studies at Dartmouth College, and the inaugural chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at Purdue University.

Dr. Tillis is an internationally acclaimed scholar and author with specializations in Latin American, Afro-Latin American and African Diaspora literature. He is the author, editor, and co-editor of the following: The Afro-Hispanic Reader and Anthology (with Paulette Ramsay, Ian Randal, 2018), The Trayvon Martin in ‘US’: An American Tragedy (with Emmanuel Harris, Peter Lang, 2015), Critical Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Literature (Routledge, 2012, paperback 2013), Manuel Zapata Olivella e o escurecimento da literatura latino-americana (State University of Rio de Janeiro Press, 2013), (Re)Considering Blackness in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian (Con)Texts: A Cultural Studies Reader (Peter Lang, 2011); Caribbean-African Upon Awakening: Poetry by Blas Jiménez (Mango Publishing 2010); and Manuel Zapata Olivella and the “Darkening” of Latin American Literature (Missouri 2005). Dr. Tillis’ work has been featured in top journals, including Callaloo, Hispanic Journal, Mosaic, CLA Journal, and Transit Circle.

Dr. Tillis is the recipient of many prestigious honors and has served in various leadership roles. He was named one of the Top 50 African American Professionals and Entrepreneurs in Houston by d-mars Business Journal, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared March 7, 2017 “Dr. Antonio D. Tillis Day.” Dr. Tillis was named the 2012 Lorna Hill Professor of the Year at Dartmouth College, served as president of the College Language Association from 2008 to 2010, and received the 2007 University Faculty Scholar Award at Purdue University.

A native of Memphis, Dean Tillis is a sought-after lecturer who has served as a visiting scholar at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, the State University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. He has developed relationships with numerous universities in Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, Peru, Trinidad, Jamaica, Sweden, France, England, Costa Rica, Peru, Ghana, China, and Spain.

Tyra Lewis

Clark University


Dr. Dorothy Mosby

Mount Holyoke College


Dorothy E. Mosby, is Professor of Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American Studies and the Associate Dean of Faculty at Mount Holyoke College. She is also a member and former chair of the Africana Studies Program.

She specializes in the expression of ethnic, cultural, and national identity in texts by Afro-descendent Central American writers, particularly those of Anglophone West Indian heritage. In the classroom, Dr. Mosby teaches courses on the African Diaspora in the Americas, race and ethnicity in Latin America, Afro-Latin American and Caribbean women writers, and Central American literature.

Dr. Mosby received her PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she focused on Afro-Hispanic and Caribbean texts. Before coming to Mount Holyoke College, Dr. Mosby taught at the Ohio State University.

She is the author of Quince Duncan: Writing Afro-Costa Rican and Afro-Caribbean Identity (University of Alabama Press, 2014) and Place, Language, and Identity in Afro-Costa Rican Literature (University of Missouri Press, 2003).

Dr. Mosby received a Fulbright Grant in 2012 to teach and research in Honduras where she examined challenges to mestizo multiculturalism by Afro-Central American writers, artists, and community activists.

She recently published, Quince Duncan’s Weathered Men and The Four Mirrors: Two Novels of the Afro-Costa Rican Journey (Palgrave, 2018), a translation of two of Duncan’s novels and she is currently working on a book manuscript on blackness and mestizo nationalism in Central America.

Dr. Sarah Soanirina Ohmer

CUNY, Lehman College


Assistant Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies, African American Studies, Women's Studies at Lehman College and Women's Studies Quarterly journal board member, her research focuses on the intersection of gender, race, class and trauma in Black Women’s Literature from Cuba, Brazil, and the U.S. She first taught at the University of Indianapolis, where she coordinated the Spanish Program, and also taught courses at the University of Houston and University of Pittsburgh. Past recipient of Fulbright, CUNY Graduate Center for Politics Culture and Place, FLAS, and internal fellowships at U Pittsburgh, U Indianapolis, and CUNY, Ohmer has published articles in the Journal of International Women’s Studies, Zora Neale Hurston Forum, Confluencia, InterFACES. Her publications are available for download at the following website:

Dr. Luisa Ossa

La Salle University



Luisa Marcela Ossa is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Area Chair of the Undergraduate Spanish Program at La Salle University. Her research interests include Afro-Hispanic Literatures and Cultures as well as the Chinese presence in Latin America. She has published articles on the work of Manuel Zapata Olivella in the Afro-Hispanic Review and the Monographic Review. Her other publications include “Conciencia social y la herencia africana en la salsa de Joe Arroyo y Grupo Niche” in the Afro-Hispanic Review, “Muerte caliente: El erotismo y la muerte en La última noche que pasé contigo” in the anthology La narrativa de Mayra Montero: Hacia una literatura transnacional caribeña, and “Babalawos chinos: Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Mayra Montero's Como un mensajero tuyo” in the Delaware Review of Latin American Studies. For six years she served as the President of the Afro Latin/American Research Association (ALARA), an international scholarly organization devoted to the study of the African Diaspora in the Americas, and she continues to serve on its executive committee. Her volume, Afro-Asian Connections in Latin America in the Caribbean (Lexington Books, November 2018), co-edited with Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, explores historical, cultural, and social ties between people of African and Asian descent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Biografía en español

Luisa Ossa es Profesora Asociada en La Salle University en Filadelfia, Pensilvania. Sus campos de investigación incluyen la literatura afro-hispana y la presencia china en Latinoamérica. Ha publicado artículos sobre la obra de Manuel Zapata Olivella en las revistas Afro-Hispanic Review y Revista monográfica. Sus otras publicaciones incluyen, “Conciencia social y la herencia africana en la salsa de Joe Arroyo y Grupo Niche” en la revista Afro-Hispanic Review, y “Muerte caliente: El erotismo y la muerte en La última noche que pasé contigo” en la antologíaLa narrativa de Mayra Montero: Hacia una literatura transnacional caribeña, editada por Madeline Cámara y Kevin Raúl Sedeño. Recientemente, participó en el decimoquinto Arturo Schomburg Symposium en Filadelfia, donde habló sobre la obra de Edelma Zapata Pérez.

Dr. Dawn F. Stinchcomb

Purdue University


Dawn F. Stinchcomb is an Associate Professor of Latin American literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Purdue University. Specializing in Afro Hispanic literature and culture, her research focuses on the themes of race, gender, sexuality, and racial and cultural identity within the concept of national identity in Latin America. In 2010, Editores Abya-Yala of Quito published J.Marcelo González’s translation of her 2004 monograph with the title La negritud literaria en la República Dominicana, a brief study of how Dominican literature was used as propaganda to conceive of a national identity void of blackness, in denial of African ancestry.

Her current research project investigates the role that black journalists played defining the terms of black Cuban citizenship and questions the limited space given black Cubans in the history of the formation of the Cuban nation during the19th-century struggles for independence. In her study, Urgent Words, Compulsory Silences: Black Activism, the Black Cuban Press, and the Cost of Cuban Citizenship (in progress), Juan Gualberto Gómez, Rafael Serra y Montalvo, and Martín Morúa Delgado figure prominently as pioneers of the black Cuban press and as patriots of 19th-century Cuba of equal, if not more, importance than Céspedes, Maceo, and Martí.

Dr. Sonja Watson

Texas Christian University


Dr. Sonja Watson is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her areas of specialty are Afro-Panamanian and Hispanic Caribbean Literature and Culture, Hip Hop, and Critical Race Theory.

Dr. Watson has published articles in the College Language Association Journal, the Afro-Hispanic Review, the Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies Journal, the Cincinnati Romance Review, El Istmo, Callaloo, PALARA, Hispania, alternativas, and LiminaR about black identity in the Hispanic Caribbean. She is the author of The Politics of Race in Panama: Afro-Hispanic and West Indian Literary Discourses of Contention (University Press of Florida, 2014). She is the recipient of a 2017 NEH-HSI Faculty award. She is also co-editor along with Dr. Dorothy Mosby of the journal PALARA: Publication of the Afro-Latin American Research Association.

Her current book project is, “Globalization, Transnationalism, and Hybrid Identity in Panamanian reggae en español,” which is under contract with the University Press of Florida.


ALARA Membership is open to all those interested in African Diaspora Studies.

Membership Dues and Conference Registration Fees

The conference registration fee is US $150.

For those not attending the conference, the fee for a two-year membership to the organization is US $125.

The Publication of the Afro-Latin/American Research Association (PALARA) is now open access and is located here:

Dr. Dorothy Mosby and Dr. William Luis