Mari N. Crabtree is an associate professor of African American Studies and an affiliate of the History Department and has previously been a visiting research scholar with Princeton University's Department of African American Studies. She specializes in African American culture and history, in particular how the African American cultural tradition has shaped African American struggles for freedom in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her book, My Soul is a Witness: The Traumatic Afterlife of Lynching, 1940–1970, is under contract at Yale University Press for the New Directions in Narrative History series and will be published in 2021. This monograph unearths how African Americans processed traumatic memories of lynching in the mid-twentieth century US South. Drawing upon a wide range of narrative responses to lynching, this book develops a theory of African American trauma that uses the sensibility of the blues as its central metaphor. She also has an essay on subterfuge in the African American cultural tradition published in Raritan as well as an essay on reimagining the temporal and geographic boundaries of lynching that will appear in an edited volume, Reconstruction at 150. Her next book project expands upon the subject of her Raritan article, and it is titled Shuffling Like Uncle Tom, Thinking Like Nat Turner: Humor, Deception, and Irony in the African American Cultural Tradition.
Professor Crabtree teaches courses on African American music, mass incarceration, collective memories of racial violence, the life and writings of James Baldwin, and Afro-Asian cultural and political connections.