SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Nydia A. Swaby

BA (Rollins College) MA (Sarah Lawrence College)
  • Overview
  • Research


Nydia A. Swaby
Centre for Gender Studies

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Nydia A. Swaby
Email address:
Thesis title:
Becoming Black: gender and the meanings of blackness in contemporary Britain
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


Nydia is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Gender Studies and a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher in the Initial Training Network ‘Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging’ (CoHaB) at Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies. She holds a BA in Anthropology and a minor in African American Studies from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida (2004) and an MA in Women's History from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York (2011).

PhD Research

Drawing on archival and ethnographic data, alongside a textual analysis, this thesis explores the social and political constitution of black identity and consciousness based on the premise of individual and collective becoming. It describes how different sites / cites of becoming black emerge from different conditions, discourses, experiences, and spatial settings and analyzes how each of these are implicated in the complex meanings of blackness for black women / black feminists living in Britain. I argue that, for the women whose personal_political perspectives I depict and narrate in this thesis, blackness is an intersecting oppression, a politics of resistance, a framework of belonging, and an imaginary home. Each of these articulations emphasizes that blackness is expansive, flexible, multiple, and even contradictory, and thus always has the capacity to be remade. Blackness, in other words, is always updating itself according to the needs, feelings, and desires of individual and collective black women / black feminists. Becoming, I argue, is therefore immanent to blackness in the sense that black women / black feminists are always becoming black. Thus, this thesis also examines how different sites / cites of becoming black are always, already in transition.


Swaby, N.A. (2014) 'Disparate in voice, sympathetic in direction: gendered political blackness and the politics of solidarity', Feminist Review. 108, 11-25.

Swaby, N.A. (2014) 'Amy Ashwood Garvey and the political aesthetics of diasporic social spaces in London', Symbolism An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics. Volume 14, 59-73. 


  • ‘Politically Black: Diasporic Women’s Activism in Postcolonial Britain’ (2014). Paper presented at The Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians (Big Berks), University of Toronto, May 2014.
  • ‘Gendering Political Blackness: Using Intersectionality as Theory and Method’ (2014). Presentation at a workshop with Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London, April 2014.
  • ‘Black British Feminist Scholarship and Black Feminism’ (2014) Discussant at Feminist Exchanges Roundtable discussion with Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, United States Embassy, London, April 2014.
  • ‘The Spatialities of Black Women’s Resistance’ (2014). Paper presented at Gender Matters Too, International Women’s Day event, SOAS, University of London, March 2014.
  • ‘Contemporary Black British Feminism’ (2013). Presentation at A Vindication for the Rights of Black Women Panel Discussion, Girton College, Cambridge University, October 2013
  • Race and Second Wave Feminism. Discussant at Sisterhood and After: Intergenerational Conversations of Second Wave Feminism, The British Library, October 2013.


  • Marie Curie Initial Training Network "Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging" (CoHaB)
  • Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


  • Black Europe
  • Black feminist theory and praxis
  • Black studies
  • Diaspora theory
  • Gender studies
  • Queer of color critique