Tsitsi Ella Jaji

Tsitsi Ella Jaji

Associate Professor of English

External Address: 
304D Allen Building, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708
Office Hours: 
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 - 1:00 pmPlease schedule a time slot here


Jaji is an associate professor of English at Duke University with expertise in African and African American literary and cultural studies, with special interests in music, poetry, and black feminisms. She previously taught at University of Pennsylvania and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities/Schomburg Center, Mellon Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, and National Humanities Center.

Her book, Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford), won the African Literature Association’s First Book Prize, as well as honorable mentions from the American Comparative Literature Association and Society for Ethnomusicology. The book traces how exchanges between African American, Ghanaian, Senegalese and South African artists shaped cultural and political liberation projects. She is now at work on two new projects: Cassava Westerns is a study of how global Black writers and artists reimagine the American frontier myth to serve new, local purposes. The second, Classic Black is a study of poetry set to music by black concert music composers. 

Jaji, originally from Zimbabwe, is also a poet. Her collection, Beating the Graves (2017) was published through the African Poetry Book Fund with University of Nebraska Press  and her chapbook Carnaval, (2014)  appears in  New Generation African Poets box set. Her poems have appeared in Black Renaissance Noire, Prairie Schooner, Bitter Oleander, Illuminations, Madison Review, ElevenEleven, etc. and she has read at the Poetry Foundation, Library of Congress, and United Nations, among others.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Cornell University 2009

Selected Grants

New Directions - Musicology awarded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2021 to 2024

National Humanities Center Fellowship awarded by National Humanities Center (Principal Investigator). 2018

Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

Duke Endowment Fellowship awarded by National Humanities Center (2017 to 2018)

NEH Schomburg Center Scholar-in-Residence awarded by New York Public Library (2016)

Mary I. Bunting Fellowship awarded by Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study, Harvard University (2012 to 2013)

Jaji, Tsitsi Ella. Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cassava Westerns: Theorizing the Pleasures of Playing the Outlaw in Africa.” The Western in the Global South, Routledge, 2015.

Jaji, Tsitsi Ella. “Within Earshot of Africa—Meditations on The Sound of Culture.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, vol. 22, no. 1, Duke University Press, Mar. 2018, pp. 159–71. Crossref, doi:10.1215/07990537-4379032. Full Text