Umniya Najaer

Umniya Najaer

PhD program in Modern Thought and Literature

Field: Black Studies, with research interests and specializations in:

-       Black Feminist Theory, Poetics, and Autobiography

-       Black Radical Thought, Traditions of Protest and Resistance and Transnational Liberation Movements

-       African Diaspora Literature, Cosmologies and Creative Expressions with a particular interest in Black Futurity and Black Femme, Queer, and Youth Interiority

-       Speculative Historical and Archival Inquiry and Articulation

-       Black Liberatory and Speculative Forms in Literature and Art

-       Theories of Afro-futurism and Afro-pessimism

-       Worldbuilding and Liberation Praxis

-       Black and Indigenous Humanisms

-       Black Femme Materialist Philosophy of History: Biological Futurity, Mothering, Maternal Refusal, Rape Culture and Paradigms of Consent and Objecthood

-       Critical and Speculative Documentary Methodologies: Documentary Poetry, Auto-theory, Autoethnography, and Experimental Forms

-       New Materialism, Planetary and Interspecies Studies, Ecology, and Anthropocene Studies

-       Theatre and Performance Studies

-       Aesthetics of Possibility, Abolitionism, Marronage, Fugitivity and Radical Love

My dissertation Worldbuilding at the End of the World is a collection of critical essays exploring what possibilities for worldbuilding—outside of the dominant episteme of western modernity—exist for us in the present and the near future. These poetic and speculative essays investigate how people of the global majority seeking an alternative way are actively engaged in worldbuilding practices within and outside the confines of the western episteme. 

My aim as a writer, scholar, educator and artist is to offer critical and contemplative modality of hope, healing, and futurity as we collectively explore and begin to arrive at a new innerstanding of what it means to be human.

My recent publications include “Dear Alice: for the Murder of {your} Bastard Child of the Starry-Eyed Tribe Born to Children” which follows the case of 16-year old Alice Clifton who was charged with murder in Philadelphia in 1787.  This essay is based on archival research I conducted on Black women’s and girls’ interior lives during two dissertation fellowships at the Library Company of Philadelphia (2020-2021) and at UPENN’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies (2021-2022).  The publication “Dear Alice” appears in the Haymarket Anthology So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth (2023) edited by the marvelous aracelis girmay.

In addition to my scholarly research, I also write poetry, essays, journalism, and experimental cross-genre texts.  I am a fellow of the Cave Canem Foundation for Black poetics.  My poetry chapbook Armeika was published in 2018 by Akashic Press as part of the First Generation African Poets series. This collection of poems explores stories of the global Sudanese Diaspora including Biyout al Ashbah, the unofficial government torture sites, the experiences of exiles, refugees and asylum seekers, and the practice of female genital cutting (FGM).  You can find my recent publication “Spinning: Zuihitsu Fragment on Planetary, Ecological and Cosmic Consciousness” in Mizna: The Black SWANA Takeover Issue, guest edited by the splendid Safia Elhillo. A recording of the Mizna SWANA launch at the 2023 American Writers Association off-site programing can be found here

In 2023 I produced the Living Archive of Black Studies (LABS) in which I interviewed emeritus professors who were at Stanford in the early years of the African and African American Studies program.

In 2021 I was an artist and writer in residence at the Sacatar Institute in Bahia, Brazil. During my tenure there I worked on a forthcoming poetry manuscript documents the long journey of Sudanese people seeking liberation and self-determination and the ferocious state repression faced by leftist Sudanese activists, artists, scholars, and visionaries.

I co-moderated a conversation between Fred Moten and Denise Ferreira da Silva for the Multiplicity Turn: Theories of Identity from Poetry to Mathmatics series hosted by Stanford’s Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages (DLCL).

I am a co-founder of the Black Studies Collective, a graduate student run initiative committed to fostering sustained study of core and emerging Black Studies theories, including ontology, the body, Black visual and sonic cultures, transnational Black liberation, and Black Feminist and Black Queer and Trans theories. 

I am a current DARE Fellow (Diversifying Academia Recruiting Excellence) and a Susan Ford Dorsey Innovation in Africa Fellow at Stanford’s African Studies Center. 

For inquiries, please contact me at umniya.najaer [at] (umniya[dot]najaer[at]stanford[dot]edu)


Research Interests

Field of Interest
African and African Diaspora Literature; Black Studies; War on Terror; Ethnic Studies; Performance Studies; Poetry