In Memoriam Professor Steven Gregory, 1953-2021

The African American & African Diaspora Studies Department (AAADS) and the Department of Anthropology announce  the untimely passing of  Dr. Steven Gregory.

September 13, 2021

Steven Gregory was the inaugural Dr. Kenneth and Kareitha Forde Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. His extraordinary work in Anthropology on the intersection of race, class, gender and urban-based social movements unfolded in numerous books and articles, notably the volumes Black Corona: Race and the Politics of Place in an Urban Community (1998), Santería in New York City: A Study in Cultural Resistance (2000), and The Devil Behind the Mirror: Globalization and Politics in the Dominican Republic (2007), which received the Society for Urban Anthropology’s Anthony Leeds Prize, and the Gordon K. Lewis Book Prize, from the Caribbean Studies Association. His recently completed The Valley & the Acropolis: Power, Spatiality, and the Politics of Knowledge is forthcoming.

Recruited by Dr. Manning Marable, Steven came to Columbia in 2000 to lead a new interdisciplinary M.A. in African American Studies at the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS). He held a joint appointment with the Department of Anthropology, where he mentored many students and contributed significantly to the life of the anthropological community. In IRAAS, he served as Director of Graduate Studies for a generation of MA students, and as Director of IRAAS for two years starting in 2006. His work was a cornerstone of IRAAS and then the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS), with its distinctive urban focus. Like him, AAADS celebrates our home in New York City, one of the intellectual and spiritual homes of the global Black world, and offers curricular strengths in diasporic urbanities, political and religious thought, social justice, and cultural studies.

Steven taught at Wesleyan University and New York University before coming to Columbia. He holds an M.A. and PhD from the New School for Social Research. His initial studies, however, were in art. He received a B.F.A in film and M.S. in Art Education from Pratt Institute, hence Visual Anthropology was also one of his strengths. Indeed, in the last few years one rarely encountered Steven without his camera. His example will remain in our collective memory as the department continues to grow, building upon our rich intellectual tradition by ensuring a place for the study, analysis, and practice of the arts, that was also fundamental to his committed excellence and humanity.

Steven could always be counted on to serve the disciplines he engaged, of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Anthropology. He shared his boisterous enthusiasm with students, colleagues, the university, and the world. His impact was as genuine as his smile. Steven Gregory will be dearly missed.

Details regarding a memorial and other ways to honor Steven Gregory will be forthcoming.

Kellie Jones
Chair, Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies
and Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art, Department of Art History & Archaeology

David Scott
Ruth and William Lubic Professor
Chair, Department of Anthropology