Tanya Shields is an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, a past fellow of the Carolina Women’s Center Faculty Fellowship, and a recipient of the Institute of Arts and Humanities’ Academic Leadership Fellowship. Dr. Shields’s first book, Bodies and Bones: Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging (2014) examines the ways in which rehearsing historical events and archetypal characters shapes belonging to the region. Feminist rehearsal helps us explore the ways in which people continually negotiate terms of membership and how these interactions reveal structures of resistance, oppression, and inequality.
Dr. Shields is also editor of The Legacy of Eric Williams: Into the Postcolonial Moment (2015), which examines the contributions of Eric Williams, the first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, as an individual, a leader, and a scholar. Dr. Shields is currently at work on her second monograph, “Gendered Labor: Race, Place and Power on Female-Owned Plantations,” a comparative study of women who owned plantations in the Caribbean and U.S. South. Additionally, her work is published in Cultural Dynamics, Women, Gender, and Families of Color, Identities as well as in The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Constructing Vernacular Culture in the Trans-Caribbean. In 2016, along with Professor Kathy Perkins, Dr. Shields co-convened the National Endowment for the Arts funded conference, “Telling Our Stories of Home: Exploring and Celebrating Changing African and African Diaspora Communities.”
Dr. Shields teaches classes on Caribbean women, the arts of activism, growing up girl globally, and the continuing influence of plantation economics and politics. She is the immediate past president and current board member of the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals (AWFP) and a board member for the Maryland-based Carivision Community Theater, which seeks to use theater as space of exchange between Caribbean and U.S. theater audiences. Dr. Shields is also dramaturge for the Houston-based Process Theater’s “Plantation Remix” project. Her class, “Rahtid Rebel Women: An Introduction to the Caribbean,” was listed as number 7 on Elle Magazine’s “63 College Classes that Give Us Hope for the Next Generation.” Dr. Shields earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland at College Park.