Rafia Zafar

Rafia Zafar is Professor of English, African and African-American, and American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her publications include God Made Man, Man Made the Slave (co-editor; Mercer 1990); Harriet Jacobs and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (co-editor; Cambridge UP, 1996); We Wear the Mask: African Americans Write American Literature, 1760-1870 (Columbia UP, 1997); and Harlem Renaissance Novels: The Library of America Collection (two volumes; Library of America, 2011). She has also published several essays on food and American literary identity. Zafar has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Virginia Center for the Humanities and in 2007 held the Walt Whitman Distinguished Fulbright Chair at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. In 2014-2015 she was NEH Scholar in Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Her administrative portfolio at Washington University has included Director of the Program in African & African American Studies (1999-2003) and Director of Undergraduate Honors in the Department of English (2007-2010). From 2011 to 2014 she served as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusiveness, where she directed the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship program, aimed at increasing the number of under-represented groups in academic positions, and worked to expand and develop other minority recruitment and diversity initiatives for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her most recent book is Recipes for Respect: African American Meals and Meaning (2019, University of Georgia Press).

Posts by Rafia Zafar

Books, Family, Loss, and Growth

Throughout Read Until You Understand Griffin entwines her personal account of life as a Black woman in America—tragic encounters with police, teachers who either misrepresent her or open her mind to new thoughts—with those books that underscore the way in which her life functions as a synecdoche for her Black, Philadelphian neighbors.

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah

Deetz’s Bound By Fire sets out to address our on-going gastronomic rehabilitation by focusing on the story of Virginia’s enslaved plantation cooks. She has taken on a difficult task, for those unsung chefs of the antebellum and colonial era left no cookery compilations or published sources behind.

Carver’s Food Movement

Carver’s significance should not solely be accounted for by his creation of multiple new uses for agricultural crops. In a nation today roiled by debates over genetically modified organisms (GMO food crops), Carver’s “old fashioned” methods of composting, kitchen gardens, and conscious eating seem simultaneously quaint and prescient. He should rightly be lauded him as an avatar of responsible land stewardship and healthy eating.