John Mundell is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. His research and teaching are centered on race sexuality, and popular culture in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Lusophone Africa. He specializes in narratives of racial formation and race mixture, with a focus on Brazil, whose ideological basis in heteronormative whiteness and whitening impute blackness as queer and abject to the national project.
During the fellowship, he is transforming his dissertation into a book titled Longing for a Racial Democracy: Race, Sex, and Popular Culture in Brazil. As a black queer studies and critical whiteness project, the manuscript demonstrates how the ideology and myth of Brazil’s racial democracy is made and reworked from the turn of the twentieth century to the digital age, through readings of literature, revue theatre, comedy films, samba music, telenovelas, and digital culture like memes and internet pornography. Mundell's scholarly work has been published in Luso-Brazilian Review and Latin American & Caribbean Ethnic Studies. He has worked as a translator for several peer-reviewed academic journals, including most recently for a special issue on critical whiteness in Latin American & Caribbean Ethnic Studies. He teaches courses on blackness in Latin American and Caribbean visual culture, race in Brazil, critical whiteness, and intellectual and cultural exchange between black people in Latin America and the African continent. He co-founded and co-directs the multi-institutional Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean working group, or BLAC, that serves as a writing and co-mentorship hub for junior scholars in and out of academia who are working at the intersection of Black studies and Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies.
Dr. Mundell earned his Ph.D. in African American and African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender & Sexuality. Previously, he lived in Brazil where he earned his master’s degree in the country’s only existent post-graduate Black studies program (Ethnic and African Studies, Universidade Federal da Bahia) and has returned for field work toward his dissertation and book project. He is an enthusiastic supporter of study abroad for students, having also studied in Ecuador and Argentina during his undergraduate career. In addition to his love of travel and learning languages, he is an avid chef and baker.