College of Arts and Humanities

Ink and identity: Clemson’s Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence shares Afro-Hispanic insights and continues dual book projects


Clemson University’s Global Black Studies program welcomed the school’s first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence in at least 15 years this semester.

Paulette Ramsay of the University of the West Indies-Mona (Jamaica) is teaching a course on Afro-Latin American Women Writers this Spring, while also writing two books. She is a renowned academic and creative writer who has published several works of poetry, two novels and nonfiction work, including “Afro-Mexican Constructions of Diaspora, Gender, Identity and Nation” (2016).

“I’m delighted to be here,” Ramsay said. “I want my students to be able to learn that there are several communities of Black people across Central and Latin America. These countries are multiethnic and multicultural. There are women who are writers for different reasons: they are writing to say who they are as women, Black women and members of a particular nation and region.”

She’s drawn to understanding the underlying cultures and links of Afro-Hispanic identity partly because of her own upbringing. Ramsay grew up in Jamaica with her father, while her mother lived in the United Kingdom.

“I think that there is a part of me that always wants to find out more,” she said. “I have a deep sense of wanting to know more about Black people — about myself as a Black woman and other Black people. There is so much knowledge to be unearthed and I want to be part of uncovering these things.

As part of the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program, Ramsay is actively writing a new novel and researching a nonfiction book centered on Zarato Arango. Arango had two books of poetry published seven years ago, something Ramsay described as rare in Black Mexico.

“Black people in Latin America do not have a ready market for their work,” she said. “One publisher published this man’s two books, but then he packed up and left because he said it wasn’t worth his time.”

A return to the Upstate

This isn’t Ramsay’s first time in Clemson, as she visited five years ago for a guest lecture on her 2016 book. She’s far from the warmth of her home in Jamaica, but Ramsay is relishing the new scenery as she’s spent time in more than 15 countries throughout her lifetime.

“I think my students are enjoying the course so far,” she said. “I like it when students provide feedback, and they’re very attentive.”

Global Black Studies director L. Kaifa Roland said the residency bolsters the emerging program’s recruitment efforts.

“In the coming months, Dr. Ramsay will be featured in a public lecture,” Roland said. “In the meantime, we hope the Clemson community will welcome her and help her feel at home.”

She thanked the Provost’s Office, the College of Arts and Humanities, the Division of Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access, the Office of Global Engagement, Associate Provost Sharon Nagy, Interdisciplinary Studies fiscal analyst Tonya Monroe and Department of Languages senior lecturer Melva Persico for facilitating Ramsay’s visit.

“I am reminded daily through my encounters with colleagues and students from all continents, and others contributing their broad international expertise, of just how global Clemson is,” Nagy said. “So, receiving the Fulbright to host Dr. Ramsay is indeed an honor. Being one of the many stops on her intellectual and creative journey, and what we hope becomes a permanent part of her global network will enrich Clemson in innumerable ways.”

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