The Stone Center is excited to announce that Shearon Roberts, an alum of our Ph.D. program, has been selected as a fellow with the Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. Roberts’ research focuses on media representations of race and culture of the African diaspora, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has written and published extensively about the media discourses that surround race, transnational culture, and representation in the era of new media.
As a fellow with the CPD at USC, she intends to explore the role of cultural diplomacy in transnational community-building in the African diaspora, with a focus on city-level public diplomacy in the United States. In recent years, under the Trump presidency, the United States saw an unprecedented surge in the representation of black women in elected public offices, especially in city-level jurisdictions. Roberts is interested in the ways in which city-level leaders such as Lori Lightfoot (Chicago), Keisha Lance Bottoms (Atlanta), and our own Latoya Cantrell (New Orleans), utilize city-level diplomacy as a tool for advancing black racial diplomacy.
Roberts points to friendly city-level diplomatic actions with other major cities in the African diaspora to illustrate how leaders like Cantrell act in direct opposition to the harsher federal norms of international diplomacy under the Trump administration. In this way, Black leaders and public officials across the United States have exhibited agency in their engagement with black transnational solidarity and cultural diplomacy.
While at Tulane, Roberts found the interdisciplinary structure of the Ph.D. program to be particularly helpful in guiding her research interests. Her scholarship exists at the crossroads of many disciplines – international relations, cultural studies, critical race theory, and communications to name a few. Interdisciplinarity is an integral concept to Robert’s academic work. Compared to most fellowships in international diplomacy and public relations, the CPD fellowship at USC is singular in its focus on communications and media. The interdisciplinary nature of this fellowship allows Roberts to seriously explore the various fields to which her research pertains.