Faculty Name

Sara Busdiecker, Ph.D.


Associate Professor, International Studies, Director, African Diaspora Studies, Core Faculty, ADW


African Diaspora and the World,International Studies,African Diaspora Studies (ADS)



Office Location

Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center 404


Ph.D., M.A., B.A., University of Michigan


Dr. Busdiecker is a cultural anthropologist and interdisciplinary African Diaspora studies scholar. To date, she has focused much of her research and ethnographic fieldwork on populations at the geographic, scholarly, and activist margins of Afro-Latin America, including those found in contemporary Bolivia and Chile. She has made numerous trips to Bolivia, one of which involved a two-year stay funded by a Fulbright Fellowship in order to carry out research for her dissertation, "We Are Bolivians Too: The Experience and Meaning of Blackness in Bolivia."  

Her current work in Bolivia focuses on the role of space / place and cultural performance in experiencing, defining, and mobilizing African descent in what is a majority indigenous and mestizo nation. Her work in Chile is concerned with the nature and trajectory of grassroots organizing among the multiple African descent identity organizations that have emerged in the country’s northernmost region since the year 2000.

In addition to sharing her research through publications (see Select Publications tab), Dr. Busdiecker also regularly presents at national and international conferences in African diaspora and black studies, anthropology, Latin American studies, and Afro-Latin studies, including those held by the Association for the Study of the Worldwide Diaspora (ASWAD), the Collegium for African American Research (CAAR), the National Council of Black Studies (NCBS), the American Anthropological Association (AAA), and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), among others. 

In 2009-10, Dr. Busdiecker took a yearlong leave from her faculty position in order to serve as Regional Coordinator for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Andean Project to Promote Afro-descendant Human Rights in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. In that capacity, she worked with Afro-Andean activists and community leaders and U.N. officials to develop and disseminate educational materials relating to human rights, and to organize a human rights conference for representatives of various Afro-descendant communities and organizations in each of the three countries as well as a regional human rights training workshop, held in Lima, Peru, for Afro-descendant leaders from each of the three countries.  

Video footage related to the project can be found at:

In 2018, Dr. Busdiecker was among the founding members of OJALA, the Observatorio de Justicia para Afrodescendientes en Latinoamérica. The group researches, publishes, and organizes activities around the utility or lack thereof of multicultural and anti-discriminatory legal instruments for Afro-descendants in Latin America.

Dr. Busdiecker was awarded two grants to fund research abroad during the 2018-19 academic year.

Her project “Afro-Chilean Activisms: (Re)Claiming Ancestry and (Re)Asserting Belonging at the Borders of Nation and Diaspora” is supported by a Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund Grant in fall 2018. Her project “Intimate Transformation: (Re)Negotiating Race in South Africa’s Shifting Post-Apartheid Kinscape” is supported by a UNCF/Mellon Faculty Residency Program Fellowship in spring 2019.

Before coming to Spelman, Dr. Busdiecker taught a variety of courses at the University of a Michigan as a graduate student instructor, at the University of Notre Dame as a visiting and postdoctoral fellow, and at Texas A & M University as a jointly appointed faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and the Africana Studies Program. At Spelman, she regularly teaches sections of the College’s signature African Diaspora and the World course (ADW 111/112).

Among the other courses she teaches are Activism in Afro-Latin America (ADS 300) and Peoples and Cultures of the Global African Diaspora (ADS 320), each of which was awarded a Course Development Grant for Globalizing the Curriculum by Spelman’s Gordon Zeto Center for Global Education.

Courses Taught

ADW 111  African Diaspora and the World
ADW 112  African Diaspora and the World
ADS 220   Discourses of the African Diaspora
ADS 242   Directed Studies
ADS 300   Activism in Afro-Latin America
ADS 320   Peoples and Cultures of the Global African Diaspora

Approved by the Spelman Curriculum Committee for Future Offering:

ADS 350   Reading Selves and Societies through Autobiography and Biography
ADS 405   Blackness and Nation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Research Interests

The global African diaspora; race, ethnicity, nation, and diaspora; grassroots organizing, activism, and social movements; performance; place, space, and identity; writing and representing identity and experience; ethnography; Latin America; Afro Latin America; Bolivia; Chile; family and child adoption in post-apartheid South Africa.


Busdiecker, Sara.  2019.  "The promises and limits of Bolivia’s anti-racism law for Afro-Bolivians: tundiqui, the National Afro-Bolivian Council, and the battle against blackface."  Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 14(3).

Busdiecker, Sara. 2019. Prólogo (Foreword). In Ganyingo: Voces y Espiritualidad Afroboliviana by Martin Miguel Ballivián.  La Paz, Bolivia: Ediciones Serrano.

Busdiecker, Sara. 2019. "Crowning Afro-descendant Memory and Visibility in an Indian / Mestizo Country: Bolivia’s Black King as Tradition, Symbol, Strategy, and Spectacle." Transition Magazine 127, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Indiana University Press.

Busdiecker, Sara. 2018. "Redrawing Borders of Belonging in a Narrow Nation: Afro-Chilean Activism at the Hinterlands of Afro-Latin America." In Deferred Dreams, Defiant Struggles: Critical Perspectives on Blackness, Belonging and Civil Rights, Violet Showers Johnson, Gundolf Graml, Patricia Williams Lessane, eds. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Busdiecker, Sara. 2016. Biographical entries:  Juan Carlos Ballivián; Angelica Pinedo; Bonifacio Pinedo; Julio Pinedo; Rolando Pinedo; Mónica Rey; Uchicho. In Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Franklin W. Knight, and Steven J. Niven, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Busdiecker, Sara. 2011. "Researching While Black: Interrogating and Navigating Belonging at the Margins of the African Diaspora." In Black Subjects in Africa and its Diasporas: Race and Gender in Research and Writing, Benjamin Talton and Quincy Mills, eds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Busdiecker, Sara. 2010. "The Emergence and Evolving Character of Afro-Bolivian Mobilization – From the Performative to the Political."  In New Social Movements in the African Diaspora: Challenging Global Apartheid, Leith Mullings, ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Busdiecker, Sara. 2009. "Busdiecker 2009 Where Blackness Resides." Radical History Review 103:105-116.