"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love."-The Color Purple
I’m Dr. Ashanté M. Reese, assistant professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies department at the University of Texas at Austin. I earned a bachelors in History with a minor in African American studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. After undergrad, I taught middle school at Coretta Scott King Leadership Academy before I burned out and thought graduate school was a great idea. I went on to earn a Masters in Public Anthropology at American University in 2013 and a PhD in Anthropology, specializing in race, gender, and social justice two years later. Broadly speaking, I’m interested in Black geographies – the ways Black people produce and navigate spaces and places in the context of anti-Blackness. While I am interested in and committed to documenting the ways anti-Blackness constrains Black life, I am constantly brought back to the question, what and who survives?
This question, I think, is animated by my recurring interest in community and vulnerability in research, my personal life, and the human experience more broadly. This question and these themes show up over and over again in my work. I marvel at the ways we make lives, even when constantly surveilled and threatened by state violence and neglect.
My first book, Black Food Geographies: Race, Food Access, and Self-Reliance in Washington, D.C. was published by UNC Press in April 2019. My second, Black Food Matters, is volume co-edited with Hanna Garth. To learn more about either of these books and my research more generally, check out the Research + Writing page.
Research and teaching university students is one way I explore vulnerability and making lives. Yoga and meditation is another. In 2017 I made a silent declaration to myself that I would train to become a yoga teacher. In 2018, that silent declaration became a real thing when I began yoga teacher training, which I completed in June 2019. As a Black woman academic, I am no stranger to the many aggressions we endure or how the violences of the world alienate us from our bodies as we question, “is it just me?” If that resonates with you, I hope there is something useful I can share about these practices that sustain me. You can read more about what brought me to the mat and my teaching style on the Yoga + Meditation page. If you decide to sign up for my newsletter, you will learn a lot more about how I bring together my research interests with this embodied practice that, in may ways, feels like a saving grace.
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