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Dr. Besi Muhonja holds a faculty appointment in the Department of English as Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora (AAAD) Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Prior to joining the REDI team, Dr. Muhonja served as Director of the AAAD Studies Center. Her contributions to the JMU community have been recognized with various awards including Woman of Distinction, Provost’s Award for Excellence in Inclusivity, Edna T. Shaeffer Humanist Award, Provost Faculty Diversity Curriculum Grant, Summer Research Grant, Educational Leave, Diversity Enhancement Award, and Feminist Scholarship Award.  

Dr. Muhonja’s work engages the interfaces of transnationalism, gender and sexualities in the politics, identities, philosophies and products of/from Africa, the larger Global South and the Black Diaspora. Using interdisciplinary and decolonial approaches, she studies and teaches critical African(a) studies, critical race studies, critical transnational feminisms, queer studies, ubuntu and motherhood studies. She is also a leading Wangari Maathai scholar. Dr. Muhonja is the author of Radical Utu: Ideas and Ideals of Wangari Maathai (Ohio University Press, 2020), Performing Girlhood and Womanhood: Rituals of Kenya's Twenty-First Century Middle Class (Lexington-Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and co-editor of the volumes Gender and Sexuality in Senegalese Societies: Critical Perspectives and Methods (with Babacar M’baye, 2019), Mothers and Sons: Centering Mother Knowledge (with Wanda Bernard Thomas, 2016), and Gender and Sexuality in Kenyan Societies (with M’baye, forthcoming in 2022). She is a series editor of the academic book series, Critical African Studies in Gender and Sexuality and serves on the editorial/advisory boards for various journals and organizations. She has edited three issues of major peer-reviewed journals of critical African and gender studies, including West Africa Review and JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. Additionally, she has published over 25 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, logging over 50 academic conference presentations and public lectures at major institutions in the USA and abroad. 

The AVPRS position encourages and cultivates JMU's spirit of inquiry by supporting Research Development, Research Integrity and Sponsored Programs, in addition to guiding REDI’s Inclusive Excellence goals. This office also partners closely with the Center for Global Engagement and academic units to foster best practices and opportunities in international research for both faculty and students.

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