1201 W. Nevada, MC/143
Urbana, IL 61801
My intellectual journey in African and related studies began on the African continent, and expanded out from there to other parts of the black world, especially the Americas. Southern Africa generally, and Mozambique more particularly, were the site of my first major scholarly engagement. My agrarian interests in southern Africa led to another line of inquiry, notably rural sociology and social movements in the African diaspora. My current research focuses on Brazil’s quilombos or African descended communities struggling for land and livelihood, and critically examines the national quilombo land movement that is fighting for black land rights. Brazil, home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of the African continent, is an ideal location to explore the impact of land reform on class, race, and gender in rural settings.
Politics in Africa and the African Diaspora
Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Africa/African Diaspora
Land, Labor, and Afro-Brazilian Rural Communities
Agrarian and Rural Issues
Afro-descendant Social Movements in the Americas
I am currently completing a book manuscript, For Land and Liberty: Black Struggles in Rural Brazil, an ethnographic study of Afro-Brazilian quilombo (maroon-descended) communities and their struggles for land rights, land reform, and livelihood. My work examines how race and ethnicity have become significant in new ways in twenty-first century Brazil and crucial to the resurgence of rural movements, rural mobilization, and rural resistance. While class-based land movements remain significant ethno-racial movements, such as the quilombo movement, have mobilized communities and organized across regional and urban-rural divides.
M.A.A.S., University of California at Berkeley
Ph.D., University of Toronto
B.A. with honors, University of Toronto
Principal Investigator, Department of African American Studies, Mandela Washington Fellows, Civic Leadership Institute, Department of State/IREX (FY16-YALI-CL-Illinois-01), 2016, $149,834
Principal Investigator, Center for African Studies, National Resource Center ($980,000/PO15A140048) and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship ($1,822,500/PO15B140048) Title VI Grants, U.S. Department of Education, 2014-18, $2,802,500
Principal Investigator, “Who Owns Paradise? Afro-Brazilians and Ethno-Tourism in Brazil’s Quilombos,” Research Board (RB15124), 2015, $13,658 and International Research Travel Grant, $2500
Awards and Honors
Fellow, Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society, UI, 2004
Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Program at Northwestern University, 2005
Fellow, Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, 1991-93
Fellow, Center for Advanced Study, UI, 1990
Fellow, Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African American Studies, 1987-88
Pan Africansim in the Americas, Europe and Africa
Government and Politics in Africa
Introduction to the African Diaspora
Development of African Studies
Social Movements and Globalization in Africa, Asia and Latin America
Comparative Politics in Developing Countries
Additional Campus Affiliations
Associate Professor, African American Studies
Associate Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
Associate Professor, Global Studies Programs and Courses
Bowen, M. L. (2021). For Land and Liberty: Black Struggles in Rural Brazil. (Cambridge Studies on the African Diaspora). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Bowen, M. L. (2018). Quilombo Identity, Ethno-Commodification, and Tourism in Neoliberal Brazil. In R. K. Edozie (Ed.), New Frontiers in the Study of the Global African Diaspora (pp. 197-212). (Ruth Simms Hamilton African Diaspora Series). Michigan State University Press.
Bowen, M. L., Mitchell, S. T., & Sullivan, L. (Eds.) (2017). Afro-Brazilian citizenship and the politics of history. African and Black Diaspora, 10(2).
Bowen, M. L. (2017). Who owns paradise? Afro-Brazilians and ethnic tourism in Brazil’s quilombos. African and Black Diaspora, 10(2), 179-202. https://doi.org/10.1080/17528631.2016.1189689
Bowen, M. L., & Tillman, A. S. (2015). Developing Culturally Responsive Surveys: Lessons in Development, Implementation, and Analysis From Brazil’s African Descent Communities. American Journal of Evaluation, 36(1), 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214014539831