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Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae is the Principal Investigator of the Black And Free research-creation project, a Dorothy Killam Fellow, the Tier 2 SSHRC Canada Research Chair in Race, Gender and Performance, an accomplished multi-disciplinary artist, and an Associate Professor. Black And Free is an artistic and academic experience that deepens, enlivens and expresses themes of blackness and freedom projecting expansive visions of what that could be for engaged, curious and casual members of the public that Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae started in 2017. As Principal Investigator of Black And Free, Dr. Keleta-Mae leads multi-year research partnerships with Citizen Brand; Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum; NOR: The design commons for Canada; Studio Otherness; TheEDGE; THEMUSEUM; Wilfrid Laurier University Press, and Young People’s Theatre and a research team of more than 30 people. Her research is supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Ontario Ministry of Universities and Colleges, National Research Council of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, and the University of Waterloo with funding secured through to 2027.
Recipient of a UWaterloo Arts Award for Excellence in Research (2022), Dr. Keleta-Mae’s research and artistic contributions have been particularly salient in two related fields: Black Expressive Culture and Black Feminisms. Her forthcoming book, Performing Female Blackness (Wilfrid Laurier UP) and her book Beyoncé And Beyond: 2013-2016 (Routledge UK, 2023) respectively argue that performance is part of the ontology of female blackness in Canada and examines Beyoncé Knowles Carter’s exploration of feminism through three specific works.
Dr. Keleta-Mae has commentated for outlets including the BBC, CBC, CTV, The Canadian Press, The National Post, The Fader, and Business News Network. Dr. Keleta-Mae’s op-ed about the significance of Black Lives Matter’s sit-in at Toronto’s Pride Festival (2016) was shared more than 16,000 times on Facebook breaking the Globe and Mail record for op-ed shares. An article that she wrote about Beyoncé (2016) was one of the most read stories for a week across all of the Vice Network Noisey sites in 15 countries and the most read story for a day across all of Vice Network’s sites in 24 countries. Dr. Keleta-Mae’s innovative research and teaching practices went viral receiving national and international media coverage in 2015 when she launched a new undergraduate course called Gender and Performance that used one of Beyoncé’s albums as its object of study.
Dr. Keleta-Mae is a General Co-Editor of the Theatre Research In Canada/Recherches théâtrales au Canada, the only bilingual peer-reviewed journal focused on Canadian and Québeçois theatre. She is the inaugural Editor of the Black Theatre and Performance subject area for the Routledge Performance Archive, a digital resource for theatre and performance teachers, students, scholars, and practitioners. Her full-length music albums include: “Fire Woman” (2020); “Bloom” (2009) and “Free Dome: South Africa” (2001); and her plays include: “What We Deserve” (2020), “No Knowledge College” (2005); and “Stuck” (2001). She is also a published poet, dub poet and award-winning spoken word artist who has performed in Canada, France, Jamaica, and South Africa.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2020. Fire Woman. Full length album. https://nailakeletamae.bandcamp.com/album/fire-woman
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2020. “Black Lives Matter Toronto Sit-In at PRIDE.” Until We’re Free: Black Lives Matter in Canada. Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson and Syrus Marcus Ware Eds. University of Regina Press: Regina. 263-275.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2020. “relentless” (poem). We Will Win: Blueprint for Black Liberation in Canada.” Rodney Diverlus, Sandra Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware, Eds. University of Regina Press: Regina. 151-152.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2019. “Workshop Negative: Political Theatre in Zimbabwe in the 1980s.” Theatre Research International. 44(3) 2019: 262-272.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. “Black girl thought in the work of Ntozake Shange.” Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 12(2): 32-47.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2018. “Canadian Theatre Made for Black Women.” Theatre Research in Canada. 39.1. 227-241.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2017. “A Beyoncé Feminist.” Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice. 38.1. 236-246.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2017. “on love: Performance as pedagogy.” Performance Studies in Canada. Laura Levin and Marlis Schweitzer Eds. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal. 316-339.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2016. “Amiri Baraka: A Lifetime of Saying the Unsayable” Canadian Review of American Studies. 46.2 (Summer): 265-279.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2016. “Performance as reappearance: Female blackness in history and theatre” In Defence of Theatre: Aesthetic Practices and Social
Interventions. Kathleen Gallagher and Barry Freeman, Eds. University of Toronto Press: Toronto. 129-142.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2016. “Black Lives Matter is dramatic, unsettling and inconvenient. That’s the point.” The Globe and Mail. July 5, 2016.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2016. “Get What’s Mine: ‘Formation’ Changes the way We Listen To Beyoncé Forever.” Noisey. Feb. 8, 2016.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. 2015. “An Autoethnographic Reading of The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.” Theatre Research In Canada. 36.1: 74-89.
Keleta-Mae, Naila. “Why I’m Teaching A University Course on Beyoncé.” Huffington Post. 2 July, 2015.
THPER 102: Introduction to Performance
THPERF 282: Gender and Performance
THPERF 376: Political Performance
THPERF 378: Race and Performance