Renee Alexander Craft

Renee Alexander Craft 3.4.19
Chapel Hill

Renée is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a joint appointment in the Department of Communication Studies and Curriculum in Global Studies. She earned a BA in English Literature and an MA in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.

For the past eighteen years, Alexander Craft’s research has centered on an Afro-Latin community located in the small coastal town of Portobelo, Panama who call themselves and their cultural performance tradition “Congo.” She has completed both a manuscript and digital humanities project, which reflect this focus. The first is an ethnographic monograph titled When the Devil Knocks: The Congo Tradition and the Politics of Blackness in 20th Century Panama (The Ohio State University Press, January 2015). The second project, titled Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation (, is an interactive online collection of ethnographic interviews, photos, videos, artwork, and archival material that illuminate the rich culture and history of Portobelo, Panama. Digital Portobelo was initiated through an inaugural 2013-2014 UNC Digital Innovations Lab/Institute for the Arts and Humanities Fellowship and is currently supported by an inaugural 2016 Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship. She is currently completing on a novel inspired by her ethnographic research in Panama.

In addition to her scholarship, Alexander Craft received a Durham Arts Council Ella Pratt Emerging Artist Fellowship in 2013 for I Will Love You Every-where Always, a children’s book dedicated to helping children cope with death and loss.