Shelby Sinclair

Doctoral Candidate in History
Department of History & African American Studies

Shelby Sinclair is a scholar of nineteenth and twentieth century Black women’s history who focuses on questions of race, gender, and sexuality, especially as they relate to intellectual production. She is interested in the development of Black feminist theory and praxis in the context of revolutionary struggle, the salience of gender to the Black intellectual project, and the politics of Black women’s anthologizing. Her undergraduate honors thesis “Our Silence Will Not Protect Us: The Black Feminist Voice on Sexual Violence” was an interdisciplinary study that mapped when and how Black women contributed to sexual violence discourse at three distinct historical moments.

She is currently working to construct a transatlantic intellectual history that uncovers the fraught historiography of sexual violence as a theme in Black internationalist thought. She seeks to reveal the ways that theory on space, place, citizenship and subjecthood is intimately linked to Black women’s bid for personhood and sexual respectability. By looking at Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin’s The Woman’s Era published in Boston, Una Marson’s The Keys published in London, and Amy Ashwood Garvey’s West Indian Times & Review published in Kingston, she asks how the particularities of Black women’s speech and writing about sexual violence might offer a frame for understanding the Black radical imagination.

In 2015, Shelby earned her B.A. from Stanford University where she was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and recipient of the George M. Frederickson Award for Excellence in Honors Research. In 2017, she joined the history department to work with Tera Hunter, Josh Guild, and Wendy Warren. Before Princeton, she worked in senior leadership recruiting at Google, Inc in Mountain View, California.