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Dr. Kevin Quin, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Haverford College. Photo courtesy of Haverford College.

Faces of the Ford: Professor Kevin Quin

Editor’s note: This is an installment in a series of staff profiles meant to help the community get to know some of the different staff members that we see every day. If you are interested in writing a piece on a staff member or have someone you would like to see profiled, please let us know by emailing

Earlier this semester I was able to interview Kevin Quin, a first-year professor of Africana Studies. He earned a PHD in Africana Studies along with a graduate degree in LGBT Studies from Cornell. Primarily focusing on black, queer studies, he has received numerous grants and fellowships to support his research. Read more to learn about his journey to this point, how he perceives his own identity in relation to what he studies, and what he hopes for the future of Haverford’s Africana Studies department. 

How did you realize you wanted to focus on Africana studies?
Kevin figured out in his junior year of college that he wanted to pursue a PHD in Africana studies. There were multiple aspects of Africana Studies that drew him in. The interdisciplinary nature of the field allows him more flexibility and freedom in his research, something he highly values. What appealed to him most, however, was the opportunity to study black history and the diaspora as a whole.

You got a bachelors in journalism– what led you to switch from journalism to academia? How do you feel that your work in journalism influences your current research?
In college, Kevin was a member of his school’s newspaper, in which he wrote opinion pieces regarding recent racist incidents on campus. However, due to the charged nature of his pieces, he was not able to continue publishing them. The limited editorialization of journalism as well as his introduction to the pathway of academia through the McNair Scholars Program fully cemented his desire to pursue a career in academia. While he no longer works in journalism, he acknowledges that his experience in the field aids him tremendously in what he does now by helping him become a better researcher and writer. 

What classes are you currently teaching and what will you be teaching next semester?
He currently teaches two classes: a 200-level course on the Black Power Movement and a 300-level on Black Queer Studies. Next semester he will be teaching two courses as well: Intro to Africana Studies and a course on the Black Radical Tradition designed to introduce students to radical black thinkers such as Franz Fanon and Walter Rodney among many others.

What research projects are you currently working on?
His current main project is a manuscript titled Queer Visions of Black Power that looks at how queer people critiqued patriarchy and homophobia within the black power movement. Additionally, he is working on publishing a journal article focusing on a group of black lesbian activists in New York City who criticized the patriarchy within the black power movement.

How do you feel the intersection of your black and queer identities has influenced your decisions regarding what you study and your career?
Kevin does not believe that his identity has played a role in what he studies, but does acknowledge that it may seem natural for someone to study something in which they feel represented. He does, however, highlight that Africana Studies, as a historically marginalized field, allows for more diversifying within the discipline, and that his identity may show up in that sense.

Has your identity contributed to any obstacles in your path up to this point?
Kevin believes that his identity has presented him with more opportunities than obstacles. He states that he has largely been welcomed with open arms into the Africana Studies community, and that the people to whom he has explained his work have emphasized the importance of having more queer perspectives and critiques within Africana Studies. He believes that the field is ready for a new wave of scholarship focusing on gender and sexual nonconformity, spearheaded by the current cohort of black, queer junior scholars.

What originally drew you to Haverford?
The main factor that drew him to Haverford is Haverford’s teacher-student model, which allows for more personalized, one-on-one interactions with students that would not be possible at a bigger school. Another aspect to which he attributes his decision is the student body. Kevin highly values the political, curious nature of the students on campus, emphasizing that those qualities help contribute to rich discussions not only in the classroom, but beyond it as well.

How has your experience been working within the Africana studies department? 
He has enjoyed his time working in the Africana Studies department. Kevin, along with two other Africana Studies professors from Haverford and Swarthmore, have formed a Black Queer Studies work group. This group, Kevin says, has helped create a sense of structure and support despite the department’s small size. 

What do you hope for the future of the department?
Kevin hopes that students continue to engage with and participate in Africana Studies on campus. He expects that student interest in the field will continue to grow with more resources and faculty coming to the department. While he looks forward to the future, he also believes it is important to recognize the past scholars, such as Hortense Spillers and Tracey Hucks, who were vital in growing the department to what it is today. Kevin is excited for the future of the department and is looking forward to helping grow it along with his colleagues. As he says, “It’s exciting times.”

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