Maryam Parhizkar

Maryam Parhizkar's picture
Black studies; Latinx studies; Central American studies; comparative/relational ethnic studies; aesthetics, poetics & performance; possession and property; histories & theories of the human subject; critical-creative practice; cultural institutions and redress; public humanities
M.A., City University of New York Graduate Center; B.A., Columbia University


I am a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies and African American Studies (completing a certificate in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies). As an interdisciplinary scholar of twentieth-century hemispheric literature and cultural production, I study how minoritarian creativity has navigated the relationship between race, coloniality, and the material world.

My project, Acts in Inventory: Possession and the Poetics of Repair, reads Black American and Latinx engagements with practices of collection and display from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. The project examines how ongoing conditions of coloniality manifest in dispossessive acts of material accumulation, reflecting American desires to possess “the Other” as a means of self-cultivation. Coinciding with the expansion of U.S. imperialism, Acts in Inventory articulates how practices of inventory-making under coloniality have been cultivated within institutional sites such as human exhibitions, anthropological museums, art collections, archives, and memorials, incorporating hierarchically racialized, gendered, and sexualized narratives of human difference into knowledge-building projects. It demonstrates how historically dispossessed subjects have countered practices of empirical knowledge production by engaging the holdings of hegemonic inventory-making: the captured artifacts, specimens, images, busts, edifices, and bodies that become contested sites of power. By turning to literature, performance, and visual culture, the project argues that Black, Latinx, and other minoritarian subjects offer alternatives to western humanism premised not on the ability to possess materiality, but rather, to reparatively conjure what has been stolen, looted, or unable to appear.

In addition to my dissertation research, I am interested in how U.S. Central American subjects emerge in U.S. literature and cultural production during the 1980s onward, with a focus on diasporic Salvadorans as represented in the works of  Black American and Mexican American writers, artists, and cultural producers. I am the member of Tierra Narrative, the New York-based U.S. Central American collective dedicated to creating conversations between artists in the diaspora and in the isthmus. In 2021 I represented the collective as a co-curatorial fellow at The Poetry Project in St. Mark’s, where we organized the Project’s first virtual transnational events to be made accessible using principles of language justice. I currently represent the collective as a guest translation editor of the literary journal Fence.

Last but not least, I am a poet interested in the possibilities of critical-creative practice as intellectual thought through my research, teaching, and beyond. I am a 2019 CantoMundo fellow and the author of three chapbooks, with poems and essays appearing most recently in The Offing, The Rumpus, The Volta, and Annulet: A Journal of Poetics.


FASAS American Studies Program