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Anthony Kwame Harrison

Anthony Kwame Harrison, Edward S. Diggs Professor in Humanities

Anthony Harrison, Professor
Anthony Kwame Harrison, Edward S. Diggs Professor in Humanities

Department of Sociology
678 McBryde Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-4519 |

Anthony Kwame Harrison is a professor in the Department of Sociology with a half-time appointment in the Africana Studies Program at Virginia Tech. He also holds the title of Edward S. Diggs Professor in Humanities.

His research and teaching generally explore issues surrounding racial identification, hip hop music, qualitative research methodologies, and social space.  An interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Harrison has presented his work at conferences focusing on anthropology, sociology, Black studies, popular music studies, philosophy, marketing, qualitative inquiry, and higher education pedagogy.  He is President of the General Anthropology Division of the American Anthropological Association and on the Advisory Board of the Race and the Marketplace (RIM) Network.

Harrison has authored several books, in addition to numerous academic articles and chapters in edited volumes. His first book, Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification is an ethnographic study of a multiracial community of hip-hop practitioners in the San Francisco Bay Area. His second book, Ethnography, is a historically informed, future-facing overview of cultural anthropologies principal research methodology. He also co-edited Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries and, most recently, curated a special issue of the French arts-based journal Dysfunction, dedicated to the life and career of James “Billboard” Jackson.

Harrison completed a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a master’s degree and a doctorate in cultural anthropology at Syracuse University. He is the winner of multiple teaching awards and a former chair of Virginia Tech’s Academy of Teaching Excellence.

  • Racial Identity
  • Popular Music Studies
  • Qualitative Research Methodologies
  • Race in the Marketplace
  • Hip Hop Historiography
  • Higher Education Pedagogy
  • PhD in Cultural Anthropology, Syracuse University, 2004
  • MA in Cultural Anthropology, Syracuse University, 1999
  • BA in Anthropology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1992
  • President, General Anthropology Division, American Anthropological Association
  • Chair, Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, Southern Sociological Society
  • Advisory Board, Race in the Marketplace Network and Forum
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Popular Music Studies
  • Member, International Association of Popular Music Studies – US Branch
  • Member, National Council for Black Studies 
  • Edward S. Diggs Professor in Humanities, Virginia Tech, 2019
  • Diversity Award (Digging In the Crates: Hip Hop Studies at Virginia Tech), University Libraries, Virginia Tech, 2019
  • E. Gordon Erickson (Outstanding Graduate Faculty) Award, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, 2012, 2016
  • Alumni Teaching Award, Academy of Teaching Excellence, Virginia Tech, 2015
  • Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies, Virginia Tech, 2014—2019
  • Carroll B. Shannon Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2014
  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2014
  • Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, 2011
  • Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholar Award, Virginia Tech, 2011
  • Diversity Award (co-recipient with April Few), College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2008
  • Doctoral Prize, Syracuse University Graduate School, 2004
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 2004

Books Authored

Ethnography: Understanding Qualitative Research (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification (Temple University Press, 2009)

Book Edited

Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries, eds. Guillaume D. Johnson, Kevin D. Thomas, Anthony Kwame Harrison, and Sonya Grier (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2019).

Select Journal Articles

“Hip Hop Ethos.” Co-authored with Craig E. Arthur. Humanities 8 (2019): Hip_Hop_Ethos.

“Black College-Radio on Predominantly White Campuses: A ‘Hip-Hop Era’ Student-Authored Inclusion Initiative.” Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies 9 (2016): 135-154.

“‘What Happens in the Cabin . . .’: An Arts-Based Autoethnography of Underground Hip Hop Song-Making.” Journal of the Society for American Music 8 (2014): 1-27.

“Reconciling Geppetto: Collaboration, (Re-)Creation and Deception in the Practice of Hip Hop Music Ethnography.” Collaborative Anthropologies 6 (2013): 38-72.

“Black Skiing, Everyday Racism, and the Racial Spatiality of Whiteness.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 37 (2013): 315-339.

“Racial Authenticity in Rap Music and Hip Hop.” Sociology Compass 2 (2008): 1783-1800.

“'Cheaper than a CD, Plus We Really Mean It': Bay Area Underground Hip Hop Tapes as Subcultural Artefacts.” Popular Music 25 (2006): 283-301.

Book Chapters

“Preserving Underground Hip-Hop Tapes in Ethnographic Context.” Pp. 103-120 in Music Preservation and Archiving Today. Edited by Norie Guthrie and Scott Carlson (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).

“‘Change That Wouldn’t Fill a Homeless Man’s Cup Up’: Filipino-American Political Hip Hop and Community Organizing in the Age of Obama.” Pp. 133-154 in The Hip Hop & Obama Reader. Edited by Travis L. Gosa and Erik Nielson (Oxford University Press, 2015).

“Hip Hop and Race.” Pp. 191-199 in The Routledge Reader on the Sociology of Music. Edited by John Shepard and Kyle Devine (Routledge, 2015).

“Hip-Hop and Racial Identification: An (Auto)Ethnographic Perspective.” Pp. 152-167 in The Cambridge Companion to Hip Hop. Edited by Justin Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

“Ethnography.” Pp. 223-253 in The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research. Edited by Patricia Leavy (Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Multiracial Youth Scenes and the Dynamics of Race: New Approaches to Racialization within the Bay Area Hip Hop Underground.” Pp. 201-219 in Twenty-First Century Colorlines: Multiracial Change in Contemporary America. Edited by Andrew Grant-Thomas and Gary Orfield (Temple University Press, 2009).

Other Creative Works

“White Reign” (an issue dedicated to the career achievements of James A. “Billboard” Jackson (1878-1960). Dysfunction #6 (2019): 1-12

“‘Please Listen to My CD-R’: Underground Hip-Hop Music from the Fans.” IASPM-US Mixtape Series (2015):

“Resurrect the Cassette: Revaluing Bay Area Underground Hip Hop Tapes.” IASPM-US Mixtape Series (2013):

  • “In Search of ‘Billboard’ Jackson: Investigating a Pioneer of Integration and the Legacy of his Opposition to Racist Market Forces,” Université Paris-Dauphine, France, June 2019.
  • “Commencement Address,” Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, June 2019.
  • “The Place of Hip Hop on College Campuses,” University of Dayton, Ohio, November 2017.
  • “Beyond the Talented Tenth: Extraordinary Blackness in 2017,” 2nd Annual Uplifting Black Men Conference at Virginia Tech, March 2017.
  • “Being On Campus: Articulations of Togetherness and Difference,” Diversity Workshop, Quest University, Squamish, British Columbia, February 2017.
  • “Black Lives Matter and the Anthropology of Racism,” Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, February 2017.
  • “Campus Diversity and the Structural Inequalities of Underrepresentation: A Lecture and Discussion on Race,” Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia, November 2014.
  • “The Production of Blackness: Exploring the Racialized Politics of Hip Hop Recording Studio Practice,” Queens College, Queens, New York, November 2013.
  • “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality.” Keynote Lecture, Black History Month Celebration, New River Valley Community College, Dublin, Virginia, February 2013.
  • “Re-Situating ‘Billboard’ Jackson: The Untold Story of African-American Music, Mobility, and Freedom,” The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, February 2012.
  • “Blurring the Colorlines: Race and Hip Hop in the San Francisco Bay Area,” Oxford College, Oxford, Georgia, April 2007.
  • “Containing Black Music: The Appropriation and Essentialization of Hip Hop,” Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, March 2005.

Undergraduate-Level Courses

  • Foundations of Hip Hop
  • Introduction to Social Anthropology
  • Black Aesthetics
  • Introductory Sociology
  • Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Sociology of Popular Music

Graduate-Level Courses

  • Social Issues in Qualitative Methodology
  • History of Social Thought 

PhD Committees Chaired

  • William Trevor Jamerson, Tourist Harlem: Sidewalks, Cyberspace, and the In/Visibility of Race, 2019
  • Corey Javon Miles, Niggaz Wit Aesthetic: A Sociological Conceptualization of Diasporic Hip-Hop Identities in the Era of Mass Incarceration, 2019
  • Lawrence Johnson, The Permanence of Race: Governor Deval Patrick and the Deracialization Concept, 2012
  • Meredith Ann Katz, The Politics of Purchasing: Ethical Consumerism, Civic Engagement, and Political Participation in the United States, 2011

Master’s Degree Committees Chaired

  • Joy Thompson, The Return: Understanding why Black Women Choose to “Go Natural, 2018
  • William Trevor Jamerson (Sociology). Race, Discourse, and the Cultural Economy of Neoliberal New York: An Analysis of Online Reviews of Harlem Heritage Tours, 2014
  • Dominique Christabel Bunai, If This is a ‘Real’ Housewife, Who are all These Women Around Me?: An Examination of the Real Housewives of Atlanta and the Persistence of Historically Stereotypical Images of Black Women in Popular Reality Television (co-chair with Dr. Ellington Graves), 2014
  • Melissa Faye Burgess, ‘You Can’t Put People in One Category Without Any Shades of Gray’: A Study of Native American, Black, Asian, Latino/a and White Multiracial Identity (co-chair with Dr. Paula Marie Seniors), 2011
  • Corey Meghan MacDonald, ‘We Listen to Women’: Exploring Midwifery in Virginia from Certified Nurse-midwives and Certified Professional Midwives, 2007
  • Meredith Ann Katz, "The Beats Have No Color Lines:" An Exploration of White Consumption of Rap Music (co-chair with Dr. John Ryan), 2004
  • Visiting Professor, MOST (Markets, Organizations, Society and Technologies) Research Team, Université Paris-Dauphine, France, 2019
  • Study Abroad, Ghana, 2017
  • Advisory Board, Race in the Marketplace Network, 2016-

Select Media Mentions