Professional Bio

Tanisha C. Ford is a foremost voice, speaking at the intersection of politics and culture. She is an award-winning writer, cultural critic, and Associate Professor of Africana Studies & History at the University of Delaware. Tanisha is also a co-founder of TEXTURES, a pop-up material culture lab creating and curating content on bodies and the built environment. Her commitment to social justice and communities of color is evident in everything she produces.

A native of a mid-sized Midwestern city most people have never heard of, Tanisha enjoys researching the histories of often-overlooked people and places. Her work centers on social movement history, feminism(s), material culture, the built environment, black life in the Rust Belt, girlhood studies, and fashion, beauty, and body politics. She makes connections between the past and the present in ways that shed refreshing new light on contemporary cultural and political issues.

Tanisha is the author of three books: Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion (St. Martins, June 2019), Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful (Aperture, May 2019), and Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul (UNC Press, 2015), which narrates the powerful intertwining histories of the Black Freedom movement and the rise of the global fashion industry. Liberated Threads won the 2016 Organization of American Historians’ Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for best book on civil rights history. Her research has been supported by prestigious institutions such as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Center for Black Music Research, among others.

Her writing and cultural commentary have been featured in diverse media outlets including the New York Times, the Atlantic, ELLE.comThe RootApertureThe Feminist WireCognoscenti, the New YorkerEbonyNPR: Code SwitchFusionNews OneNew York Magazine: The CutYahoo! StyleVibe Vixen, CBSNews, WNYC, and New York City’s HOT 97.

A dynamic speaker, Tanisha is regularly invited to give lectures and serve as a roundtable discussant at universities and cultural institutions around the world including: the Brooklyn Museum, the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Museum of the City of New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), National Arts Club, Parson’s The New School for Design, Ritsumeikan University (Japan), the Black Europe Summer School (Netherlands), and the University of London. Her lectures take audiences on a roller coaster ride of emotions, as she weaves together obscure stories of America’s Jim Crow past with the stories ripped from the latest news headlines.

She lives in Harlem.