Harry Kiiru

Credentials: Kenya

2022 SKJ Fellow

Harry Kiiru is a PhD candidate in the Department of African Cultural Studies with a minor in Afro-American Studies. His dissertation research studies the new African diaspora: that is, Sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States since the 1960s. More specifically, Harry is interested in the racialization processes involved in the “becoming Black” among voluntary African immigrants through their incorporation into the ethnoracial hierarchal order within the United States and how they negotiate this identity. Page 2 With the support of the Scott Kloeck-Jenson Fellowship, Harry plans to undertake preliminary archival research in Nairobi, Kenya of the 1959 to 1963 East African/JFK/Tom Mboya Airlift which saw almost eight hundred East African students (mostly Kenyans) come to the US and Canada on university scholarships. The goal of the airlift was to provide the necessary education for a generation of nation builders who would go on to occupy positions in government, civil service, and education sectors in the newly independent states of East Africa. The Airlift, as a concrete historical moment, allows Harry to construct a periodization that runs from the 1960s to the present. This period therefore embraces migration in a turbulent 1960s (Black Power and Civil Rights Movements, Jim Crowism, Cold War, African independent statehood), the post-independence economic migrations of the 1970-90s, and the current Black Lives Matter moment in its local and global orientations.