Howard University School of Divinity in Partnership with NMAAHC Awards Two Postdoctoral Scholars


Michael Fisher, Jr. - Post Doctoral Fellow at Howard School of Divinity. 2019/0 .png October 24, 2019

WASHINGTON – The Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD), in partnership with the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), has awarded postdoctoral fellowships to Michael R. Fisher, Jr., Ph.D., and Diana A. Burnett, Ph.D., to study black religion and culture for the 2019/0 academic year. Burnett and Fisher will host public talks at NMAAHC later this Fall followed by public talks at the Howard University School of Divinity in Spring 2020.

“The Howard University School of Divinity is thrilled to partner with the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life at the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” says HUSD Dean Yolanda Pierce, Ph.D. “We look forward to welcoming Dr. Fisher and Dr. Burnett into the Howard community as postdoctoral scholars. They are both working on groundbreaking interdisciplinary research projects, where ethnography, history, theology, and religious studies are the core disciplines. Their work epitomizes the best of what a Divinity School offers: an opportunity to do high-level academic research with a grounding in theological studies.”

Michael Fisher, Jr. - Post Doctoral Fellow at Howard School of Divinity. 2019/0 .pngMichael R. Fisher, Jr., Ph.D., (pictured) is a two-time alumnus of Howard University and a faculty member of Wesley Theological Seminary where he serves as the visiting assistant professor of Religion and Society. He specializes in urban redevelopment, the study of black religion, ethics and public policy, race and socio-economic inequality, and religion in public life. His fellowship research will strengthen his new book in development, tentatively titled, Urban Exiles: Economic Development and Black Displacement in U.S. Cities.

“The postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, in partnership with Howard University, provides valuable access to the Mooreland-Spingarn Research Center and to the resources of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as the Smithsonian writ large, for the purpose of archival research and funding for travel to speak with policymakers, developers, and activists across the country,” says Fisher. “I am especially excited by the opportunity to engage a world-class community of scholars across the fields of black studies, religion, and urban studies both at Howard and the Smithsonian.”

His current research examines economic development in 21st century U.S. cities through urban revitalization initiatives and their impact on vulnerable black communities. He will provide an analysis of the cultural logic that undergirds urban revitalization and considers viable solutions in the context of two case studies on Washington, D.C. and Nashville, Tenn.

Diana A. Burnett, Ph.D. (not pictured) is a researcher who examines identity formation processes that highlight religious belief and spiritual practice. Her current work interrogates how the Hebrew Israelites – a transnational, spiritual community– develop and implement their own health policies to prevent and reduce non-communicable disease (e.g. obesity, diabetes, and hypertension) risk.

During her tenure as a fellow, Burnett will work on her book manuscript, Migrant Indigeneity, an ethnography that takes seriously Hebrew Israelites’ claims of indigeneity while balancing the constriction of the category of “blackness” drawn from settler colonial frameworks. Through this work, Burnett will offer a decolonial and reterritorialized vision of indigeneity that is not tethered to Eurocentric spatial and temporal markers to construct identity. Burnett argues for the body and spiritual practice as safer grounds for theorizing indigeneity. Through the re-imaginings of self, community, and world that the Hebrew Israelites enact, Burnett’s research demonstrates their global possibilities for chronic disease prevention, health promotion, and socio-cultural well-being.

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(Featured photo: Michael R. Fisher, Jr., Ph.D. – courtesy of Michael Fisher, Jr., Ph.D.)

About Howard University School of Divinity

Howard University School of Divinity enrolls students from diverse backgrounds and religious traditions who are pursuing Master of Arts in Religious Studies, Master of Divinity, Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration, Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work, and Doctor of Ministry degrees. HUSD offers an unparalleled educational experience that not only reflects the African-American cultural and religious tradition, but also the foundations of excellence promoted throughout Howard University’s history and the unique opportunity afforded by its location within the nation’s capital. For more info, visit

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University visit

Media Contact: Imani Pope-Johns, [email protected]

Press Release Imani Pope-Johns and Paula Hall School of Divinity Alumni Graduate Studies Interdisciplinary Studies Student Affairs


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