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Oneka LaBennett

Associate Professor


Oneka LaBennett is Associate Professor of Africana Studies and a Faculty Fellow with the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. She received her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests include popular youth culture and Black girlhood; race, gender and consumption; urban anthropology; migration and diaspora; and the global Caribbean. LaBennett is the author of She's Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn (New York University Press, 2011), and editor of Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press, 2012; co-edited with Daniel Martinez HoSang and Laura Pulido). She is currently working on two book projects, one on global Guyana, and the other on genre-defying Black women artists. LaBennett has written numerous OpEds and has contributed to a number of journals and volumes, including an article entitled “Beyoncé and Her Husband’: Infidelity and Kinship in a Black Marriage," in differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. She has also conducted oral history research on art and culture in the Bronx with a focus on Bronx women's contributions to hip hop music. Before coming to Cornell, LaBennett was Director of American Studies and Research Director of the Bronx African American History Project at Fordham University. At Cornell, she is also affiliated with the Department of Anthropology, and the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Latina/o Studies, and American Studies Programs. LaBennett was born in Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

Languages Spoken
English and Spanish


  • Africana Studies and Research Center
  • American Studies Program
  • Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

Graduate Fields

  • Africana Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies


Current research projects include:

1.   A book situating Guyana’s marginality in scholarly discourses of the Caribbean against its historical and contemporary centrality to global understandings of race, gender, and the environment. This project is based on an interdisciplinary treatment of Indo- and Afro-Guyanese identities, and on analyses of Guyana’s popular cultural engagements with other Caribbean nations and the global reach of its mining exports.

2.   A book examining genre-defying Black women artists who work along the multiple registers of music, writing, and visual art as mechanisms for fostering transnational feminisms and embedding global South narratives in cities such as New York, Port of Spain, Cologne, Amsterdam, and Paris.


Fall 2021


She's Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn (New York University Press, 2011)

Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press, 2012)


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