Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Carina Ray Carina Ray
Associate Professor of History
Office Location: Dealy Hall 639
Phone: (718) 817-0581
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Research Interests

Carina Ray is an historian of Africa and the Black Atlantic world.  Her research interests and publications fall into four major overlapping clusters: race and sexuality; comparative colonialisms and nationalisms; migration and maritime histories; and the relationship between race, ethnicity, and political power.

Ray's first book, Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana (Ohio University Press, 2015), explores how interracial unions between African women and European men, once a hallmark feature of the West African coast’s culturally hybrid precolonial trading enclaves, became a source of colonial anxiety and anticolonial agitation during the first half of the twentieth century in the Gold Coast (colonial Ghana). Because the colonial color line was not only drawn in Africa, but also in Europe, Crossing the Color Line extends its analysis to the colonial metropolis to illustrate how relationships between African men and European women in Britain came to occupy the attentions of colonial administrators who employed draconian measures to ensure that the white wives of working-class Africans were kept out of the colonies. Efforts to police interracial sexual relations in the colony and Britain, in turn, provoked a backlash on the part of Gold Coasters who transformed their own anxieties over interracial sexual relations into a rhetorically powerful critique of the moral legitimacy of colonial rule.  Crossing the Color Line tracks the full arc of British rule and its demise through these relationships to demonstrate their centrality to the contested politics of colonialism and the rise of Gold Coast nationalism.

Ray's next book project, Somatic Blackness: A History of the Body and Race in Ghana, focuses on a cluster of questions that evolved over the course of her ongoing encounters with race and blackness in Ghana: When do ideas about somatic blackness emerge in this region of West Africa?  Do they begin to germinate as far back as the twelfth century when the ancient state of Bonoman was integrated into trans-Saharan trade routes and North Africans and Arabs, in all their phenotypic diversity, began to visit the region?  Do they begin, intensify or diversify with the arrival of Europeans along the coast in the late fifteenth century?  Or do they predate the arrival of physically distinct external actors altogether?  How, for instance, might pre-colonial ideas about albinism help us think about the identifiers of and meanings invested in somatic blackness? Finally, how does indigenous thought about blackness change over time in relationship to the rise of the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave trades, abolition, race mixture, colonialism, nationalism, migration, and diasporic discourses on race and racial emancipation?  That is to say, how does blackness become a racialized political identity and what relationship does it have to the corporeal? In posing these challenging questions Somatic Blackness seeks to understand indigenous racial thought in a region of Africa where scholarly attention has been primarily focused on the study of ethnic rather than racial identities. 

Her other publications include, Darfur and the Crisis of Governance in Sudan: A Critical Reader (2009) and Navigating African Maritime History (2009). She has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters including, 
Decrying White Peril: Interracial Sex and the Rise of Anticolonial Nationalism in the Gold Coast” (American Historical Review 119:1); The ‘White Wife Problem’: Sex, Race, and the Contested Politics of Repatriation to Interwar British West Africa” (Gender and History 21:3); “Tales from the New African Archive” (Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques 38:2); “Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, and the Law in Colonial British West Africa, 1911-1943” (Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake: Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa, 2012); and “Interracial Sex and the Making of Empire” (A Companion to Diaspora and Transnational Studies, 2013).  She also writes widely about contemporary African affairs and racial politics in popular media forums including New AfricanThe Huffington PostThe Progressive, and Time

Courses taught:

Introduction to African History 
Understanding Historical Change: Africa
Understanding Historical Change: Africa (Manresa Seminar)
Archiving Africa: Uncovering Britain’s African Empire
The African City: Urban History and the Making of the Global African World 
Twentieth Century African Icons 
Race, Sex, and Colonialism
Assassination in African History

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