Documenting the Black Experience in the Americas
Dr. Ben Vinson III brings an impressive array of skills and experiences to exploring and documenting the history of Spanish-speaking people of African descent in the Americas. Fluency in Spanish, a thorough grounding in classical literature and history, archaeological experience and world-class training as a historian have enabled Vinson to establish an academic career with considerable promise for groundbreaking work. His work is expected to deepen the burgeoning enterprise of African Diaspora studies as well as Latin American history.
“The study of Blacks in the Americas (outside the United States) is a field that’s emerging,” Vinson says.
Already, his first book, Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free-Colored Militia in Colonial in Mexico, published last summer by Stanford University Press, is being praised for its insightful analysis and interpretation of previously unexamined historical records of Blacks in Mexico. Although he’s entering the fourth year of his Barnard appointment, Vinson is enjoying a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he’s researching and writing a second book. He is scheduled to return to Barnard in the fall of 2003.
Vinson, the son of a retired Air Force serviceman, was able to draw from a rich set of life experiences, including time spent living overseas, and a strong educational background to become a scholar. But he originally had set his sights on being an attorney. He credits Dartmouth faculty members participating in the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellows program for persuading him to consider getting a doctorate. Vinson says he has eagerly sought the challenge of motivating his students to consider academic careers.
“It’s really a tremendous experience to be in a position to advise students on pursuing a Ph.D.,” he says.
— By Ronald Roach
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