Walter C. Rucker


Department of African American Studies and History


Originally from Decatur, Walter C. Rucker—Professor of African American Studies and History—earned his BA from Morehouse College and his MA and PhD from the University of California-Riverside. Before his arrival at Emory, he was Professor of History at Rutgers University and a tenured or tenure-track faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Ohio State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). A specialist in early Atlantic African diaspora and African American history, his teaching and research focuses on the generative nexus between slave resistance and culture. Professor Rucker has received a range of awards including the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service (ASWAD, 2017), the Ida B. Wells & Cheikh Anta Diop Award for Outstanding Scholarship & Leadership in Africana Studies (NCBS, 2008), the Lawrence Williamson Black Graduate & Professional Student Caucus Service & Mentoring Award (Ohio State, 2007), and the Harold & Esther Edgerton Award for Excellence in Research & Teaching (UNL, 2003).

Professor Rucker’s first book, The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (LSU Press, 2005), tracks diasporic African identity formation through examinations of resistance efforts in colonial British North America and the antebellum U.S. His second book, Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power (Indiana University Press, 2015), analyzes the origin and reinvention of “Coromantee” and “(A)mina” as neo-African ethnicities in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century circum-Caribbean. The book assesses the socio-political scripts, cultural technologies, and public performances fashioned by enslaved Gold Coast Africans as part of an emerging and non-Western abolitionist discourse. In addition, he has published a range of book chapters and articles appearing in the Journal of Negro History, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Scholar as well as two co-edited encyclopedia projects—The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (Greenwood Press, 2006) and The Encyclopedia of African American History (ABC-CLIO, 2010).

Professor Rucker is currently working on three new book projects—“Black Atlantic Crosscurrents: Revolutionary Spaces in the Diasporic Imaginary,” "Culture and Resistance: A Global History of African Americans," and “The Birth of a Notion: A Century of Racial Violence and Mass Incarceration in America.”

My Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., University of California-Riverside, 1999.
  • M.A., University of California-Riverside, 1994.
  • B.A., Morehouse College, 1992. 


  • African diaspora history
  • The Black Atlantic
  • African American history
  • History of the United States to Reconstruction
  • Slavery, culture, and resistance

Current Graduate Students