Core Faculty

Bianca Williams

Bianca Williams

Assistant Professor

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Ethnic Studies, UCB 339
Ketchum 162
Boulder, CO  80309-0339


Curriculum vitae



Ph.D., Duke University - Cultural Anthropology, 2009
Graduate Certificate in African & African American Studies, Duke University, 2009
M.A., Duke University - Cultural Anthropology, 2005
B.A., Duke University - Cultural Anthropology, 2002


Bianca C. Williams is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Williams’ research centers on theories of race and gender within African diasporic communities, particularly the emotional aspects of being “Black” and a “woman” in the U.S. and Jamaica. Graduating with honors as an undergraduate at Duke University, Williams went on to earn a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke, and a Graduate Certificate in African & African American Studies. In her dissertation, “American Realities, Diasporic Dreams: Pursuing Happiness, Love, and Girlfriendship in Jamaica,” Williams presents a fine-grained ethnographic analysis of diasporic relations based on research completed over four years in multiple cities in the U.S., Jamaica, and an online web-community. This study examines how African American women use international travel and the Internet as tools for pursuing happiness, creating intimate relationships and friendships, and critiquing American racism, sexism, and ageism. Williams is currently revising this dissertation into a book manuscript.

Williams continues to complete research that investigates the various strategies Black men and women utilize to pursue happiness and maintain good mental health individually, and as communities. This interest in affective dimensions of racialized and gendered subjectivities has led to an edited volume that Williams is currently completing titled, “’Do You Feel Me?’: Exploring Black American Gender and Sexuality through Feeling and Emotion,” co-authored with Jennifer A. Woodruff. Additionally, her research interests focus on issues related to differentials of power within the African Diaspora and diasporic diversity, particularly the increasingly popular sentiment that African Americans are “privileged Blacks” among global Black peoples. Furthermore, Williams is interested in interrogating the roles race and gender play in the construction of research methodologies and pedagogical practices, which can be seen in her self-reflexive piece, “’Don’t Ride the Bus!: and Other Warnings that Women Anthropologists Are Given During Fieldwork,” published inTransforming Anthropology.

Always dedicated to taking the voices of everyday people seriously, Williams incorporates various manifestations of these “voices” into her courses, requiring students to read fiction, poetry, and self-help books; view hip-hop, dancehall, and R&B influenced music videos and films; and analyze songs from a variety of musical genres, while reading and interpreting “traditional” academic scholarship. This places the social and political commentary of Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli, Chris Rock, Zadie Smith, Lady Saw, and hip-hop blogger Jay Smooth, alongside theorists such as W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin, Mark Anthony Neal, Lee D. Baker, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde. In the past, Williams has taught the following courses: Black Women, Popular Culture, and the Pursuit of Happiness; Life in America: Identity and Everyday Experience; The Black Family & U.S. Society; and The Sixties: Critical Black Views.

This fall, Williams will be teaching a new course titled, “Ethnography of American Blackness(es).” This course will interrogate the meanings associated with “American Blackness,” particularly its cultural and political representations throughout the African Diaspora, through an examination of ethnographic texts, such as John L. Jackson’s “Harlemworld,” Paul Stoller’s “Jaguar,” and Deborah A. Thomas’ “Modern Blackness;” biographies such as President Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father;” and fiction, such as Jamaica Kincaid’s “A Small Place” and Zadie Smith’s “On Beauty.”

Selected Publications

Exporting Happiness (book manuscript under contract with Duke University Press)

“’Don’t Ride the Bus!’; And Other Warnings Women Anthropologists Are Given During Fieldwork,” Transforming Anthropology, 17(2): 155-158, 2009.

“ABA Celebrates 40th Anniversary,” Anthropology News, November 2010./li>

“Finding Community in the ABA,” Anthropology News, May 2010, March 2010.

“Remembering Rex Nettleford,” Caribbean Studies Association Blog, February 2010.

“You Ain’t Black Like We: Experiencing Difference in Diasporic Contact Zones,” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, November 2010.

“A Feminist in My Head: One Woman’s Reflection on Fieldwork in Jamaica,” National Women’s Studies Association Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, November 2010.