El-Ra Radney

A photo of El-Ra Radney

Part-Time Lecturer

Africology and African American Studies


[email protected]

Interests and Expertise

As a native of Detroit, Professor El-Ra Adair Radney's background was already solidified in the Pan African/Afrocentric aesthetics and currents of Detroit's Black community by his middle school years. One of those formative ocassions was a 6th grade trip to see a performance of the Afrofuturist musician Sun Ra. Hence, a strong sense of Black pride, positive connections to Africa and Black political socialization had been cultivated in him early on from the intellectual activists and Black art aesthetic pulse that had resonated from the front porch, to the record shop, to the barbershop and from the influence of 'Black consciousness'-educators.

Since Dr. Radney was a kid, his family nicknamed him 'Professor'. Yet, it was during his undergraduate years as a major in African American Studies under the instruction of inspirational professors, who taught from the wealth of the Black diasporic experience, where he decided to make the nickname his profession. For him, these professors signaled the transformative power of Africology & African American Studies to the bedrock of Black lives, locally and transnationally. In that light, Dr. Radney's passion is to teach and use African American Studies as a way to empower and encourage students and the world alike to foster positive development in the interests of the African Diaspora.

His teaching experience, scholarship and professional development in African American Studies is very much established in the state of Michigan, where he has taught and holds a number of instructional positions, such as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Department of African American Studies at Wayne State University since 2015. Additionally, he has taught college courses for Michigan State University's Dept. of African American & African Studies on Race and Community and for Michigan State University's, Dept of Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture on Race and the Evolution of American Culture. As well, Professor Radney has taught cultural inclusion courses to international students at University of Detroit-Mercy. He has also taught Intro, advanced and special courses in the discipline for The University of Michigan, Flint and Dearborn campuses in their Departments of Africana and African & African American Studies. This collective body of teaching and research in higher education spans a 13-year period, from 2006 – 2019.

The courses at Eastern Michigan University in the Dept of Africology & African American Studies that Professor Radney teaches includes: Intro to African American/Africana Studies, Politics & The African American Experience (Black Politics), and The Social Context of African American Health.

Dr. Radney's dissertation is titled, Pan African Agency & the Cultural Political Economy of the Black City: The Case of the African World Festival in Detroit. His current publishing agenda is to transform the central topics of the dissertation into a book that is suitable for mass public consumption. His research documents Pan African informed-cultural traditions that are maintained through music, dance, spoken word, fashion, holistic health and culinary expression. His objects of study are Black diaspora institutions, such as Detroit's African World Festival, Oakland's Pan African Festival, and Houston's FESTAC, which present opportunities for exchange between continental Africans, the Caribbean, African Americans and Afro-Latinx. Thus, his work illustrates how popular cultural practices preserves African heritage as cultural political economy and Black urban placemaking. His chronology begins with the footprint of Marcus Garvey on the Black community (1920s) and moves through successive generations of Black aesthetic movements.

His PhD training is in African American and African Studies (AAAS) and his specialized niche includes four main topics of intersection: Black Political Theory, Cultural Studies, Urban Study and Africana Philosophy. Today, Dr. Radney finds one of his inspirations in the guidance model of African American Studies scholar, James Stewart, whereby Stewart asserts that Africology & African American Studies must function as a vehicle for positive social change with a functional relationship to the Black community (2002).

His core research orientation in Black political thought and cultural political economy became the foundation for his dissertation study wherein he examined how Black culture and African heritage preservation in Detroit connects to Black politics and philosophy as a form of Pan African agency in the Black city. It was during this course of study that he conceived of Detroit as 'Pan African Detroit' and originated the concept of the Pan African Metropolis.

With a Doctoral degree in African American/African Studies, and as an African American Studies generalist, Black cultural historian and political theorist, Dr. Radney is trained in a range of political theories and political philosophies, which privilege the experience and people of the African Diaspora. This professional training provided expansive intersections for the contribution of African American women, and thus the integration of Black feminist and Black women's standpoint theory. As an African American teacher/scholar, he feels a special responsibility to provide a corrective-discursive experience in an inclusive learning environment that is aligned with the Black Studies tradition of progressive education.

His mission is to create an enlightening experience, in the hopes of peeling away "the old clothing of stereotypes" (McCluskey, 2008) that have been harmful to social science, the Black city and the everyday lives of people of color. Dr. Radney holds a BA in Africana Studies from Wayne State University, a MBA from Davenport University and a PhD in African American & African Studies from Michigan State University. His article, A Place in the Sun: Black Placemaking in Pan African Detroit is published in The Journal of Black Studies, where he is also currently a Reviewer.