Thembelani (Themba) Mbatha is an interdisciplinary scholar of global black thought and the literary and cultural histories of Africa and the African diaspora. His work focuses on the intersections between the histories of blackness and the politics of memory in the postcolonial and black Atlantic worlds.
For the academic year 2023 – 2024, Themba will be a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African and African American Studies before joining faculty as Assistant Professor beginning fall of 2024. His current book project, titled Registers of Black Witnessing: Archives of Testimony in Africa and the African Diaspora, sets to offer a decolonized framework of testimony and witnessing while investigating the implications of this on contemporary and future discourses of blackness. Comprised of literary, photographic, and archival analyses, this book recuperates key episodes in the histories of South Africa and the African diaspora to contend that imagining the futures of blackness cannot truly happen without an attendant revisitation of the incomplete work of decolonizing witnessing begun in the previous century.
Themba holds a Ph.D. in English and graduate certificate in African American Studies from Princeton University. His earlier academic training took place in South Africa, where he received a BA (in English and Philosophy) from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) and BA (Hons.) and MA degrees from the University of Cape Town (UCT). Prior to graduate school, Themba served as the inaugural researcher on the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity Program, an initiative co-hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Columbia University, which concerns itself with the promotion of racial justice in South Africa, the U.S., and the African diaspora.