Justin M. Brown

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Fifth Year
Caribbean & African Diaspora Art

Justin M. Brown studies the art of the African diaspora with a focus on the Caribbean and South America. His dissertation—titled “Wind in the Cotton Tree: Afro-Surinamese Art and Ritual During the Period of Slavery”—examines how people of African descent in Dutch Suriname used objects to interact with spirits and represent their powers. In his work, he shows how ritual objects registered historical encounters with social others (i.e., Europeans and Indigenous groups), which in turn influenced representations of otherwise invisible spirits. In another vein of research, he looks at early twentieth-century photography in Cape Verde.

Justin previously held a curatorial fellowship in American art at the Worcester Art Museum, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. During his two-year position, he worked on two exhibitions, the re-labeling of the American art galleries, and Spanish-language interpretation. He holds a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island (2012), an M.A. from the University of Delaware (2015), and works in multiple languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Cape Verdean Creole, and Dutch. He has authored an essay in the publication Marking Time: Objects, People, and Their Lives, 1500-1800 (YUP 2020) that explores the implications of time and time-keeping in Britain’s slave-holding empire.