Bio

A Professor of African American Studies & History at Emory University, Dr. Walter C. Rucker has published more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, essays, and encyclopedia entries in a range of venues since 2000.  His books include Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power (Indiana UP, 2015), The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (LSU Press, 2005), a co-edited two-volume work entitled The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (Greenwood Press, 2006), and a co-edited three-volume work entitled The Encyclopedia of African American History (ABC-CLIO, 2010).

He has taught a range of graduate and undergraduate courses including Atlantic Cultures, 1500-1800; Atlantic World Slavery; the Atlantic Slave Trade in History and Memory; Slavery, Culture, and Resistance; the African Diaspora in the Americas; Culture, Society, and History in Ghana; Graduate Seminar in West African Societies and Cultures; Introduction to African American and Diaspora Studies; Black Atlantic Crosscurrents; the Black Atlantic World; Black Atlantic Communities and Cultures; and the Comparative History of the African Diaspora.

Books

Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power (Indiana University Press, 2015).

Reviews

“A work that probes deeply into the African background of a community of people in the African diaspora and shows how particular social and political conditions in their African place of origin influenced the ways in which they coped with and creatively responded to the harsh realities of slave life in the Americas. . . . The contention that new identities constructed in the America—like Coromantee—had real meaning for those who identified with those labels is important and timely. The strength of the work is its attention to the fluid and dynamic nature of culture and identity.” —Rebecca Shumway, College of Charleston

“Walter Rucker explores the origins and fates of one African regional group, known as Coromantees, in just the way that Afro-Atlantic history should be done, through careful study of the primary sources of the time in both Africa and the Americas. In so doing he has made a stellar contribution to the study of the way in which Africans and African culture was disseminated across the Atlantic.” —John Thornton, Boston University

“A profound, original study denying slavery meant social death and explaining how diverse lower class enslaved Gold Coast Africans reconstituted themselves as a coherent, unified, defiant culture group known as Coromanti and A(Mina) in the Americas.” —Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Michigan State University

“An impressive monograph highlighted by a prodigious body of original research spanning three continents. Gold Coast Diasporasreveals a deep engagement with the most important work in the field even as it pushes the historiography forward in wonderfully innovative ways. This book is both a call to action and a model for future research. His discussion of ‘commoner consciousness’ and ‘social resurrection’ will likely guide the way we discuss cultural identity in the African diaspora for years to come.” —Jason Young, Michigan

“[O]ne of the book’s greatest strengths is the ways in which Rucker painstakingly traces how ethnic labels were appropriated, recast, and ultimately employed as a means to establish community bonds and resist oppression. . . . Chapters that focus on the creation of the Gold Coast diaspora, religion, and women make for a captivating text that will be of interest to graduate students and specialist readers.” Choice  

“Provocative and well written, Gold Coast Diasporas is a must-read for any scholar interested in African identity, the transatlantic slave trade, and resistance. Africanists and African diaspora specialists need to engage with this book and with the methodological contributions that Rucker presents. His comprehensive approach to African identity and his rigorous analysis have produced a highly recommended study.” American Historical Review

Encyclopedia of African American History, 3 vols. (co-edited with preface) (ABC-CLIO Press, 2010).

Reviews

“Overall, the Encyclopedia of African American History serves as an outstanding historical reference publication that will add value to any high school, academic, or public library. Moreover, this work will serve to complement any current reference collection covering African-American, Black studies, or cultural studies. In particular, the organization system of the encyclopedia, through its division of entries into themes, distinguishes it from similar reference books.” Reference Reviews

“This is a valuable reference set, especially for schools looking to add to their collection for International Baccalaureate resources. Recommended.” Library Media Connection

“More than 200 illustrations, photographs and maps supplement the entries, and each essay also has a bibliography that will allow readers to perform more in-depth research on a given topic.” Kirkus Reviews

“Overall, this is a soldily written and well-researched mid-level set of reference books on this topic.” Reference & User Services Quarterly

“Although this work is aimed at high school students and college undergraduates, graduate students and advanced scholars in the fields of American history, African American history, ethnic studies, and black studies will find it an accessible and useful resource.” Library Journal

 

Encyclopedia of American Race Riots, 2 vols. (co-edited with preface & introduction) (Greenwood Press, 2006).

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2007.   
 
Reviews

“Essays are well-written and eminently readable, providing a degree of editorial commentary and also using everyday language to keep readers engaged as they make their way through the many dates and names that a concise encyclopedic entry often contains. Of course, some topics are well known, but others are quite obscure, leading one to appreciate the depth of information included here.” Reference Reviews

Encyclopedia of American Race Riots is a serious and scholarly work about an aspect of American racial history that commands attention. Editors Rucker and Upton, along with their contributors, provide readers with a reference that is worthy of its topic. It admirably compliments the other titles in this series of references and will be a worthy addition to collections in both academic and public libraries.” Against the Grain

“Racial violence and the specific phenomenon of the race riot have always been part of the American landscape, but have seldom been covered encyclopedically. Rucker and Upton seek to fill that gap with this outstanding two-volume work, which focuses on American race riots (African American and white) from the Civil War to the present….The body of the work consists of nearly 205 cross-referenced entries written by 80 scholars; each entry concludes with a section of Further Readings. Discussions of specific riots obviously predominate, with expected related entries like the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lynching, The NAACP, and Al Sharpton well-represented, as are less-expected entries like Black Nadir, Exodusters, Niagara Movement, Radio Free Dixie, and White Capping. Special features include a chronology of American race riots and related events from 1863 through 2005, an impressive compilation of primary source documents, and an extensive bibliography of books, articles, and Web sites. This set is indispensable for academic libraries with a focus on ethnic studies, and is highly recommended for other academic libraries and large public libraries. Essential. Ethnic studies collections supporting upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers.” Choice

“The set’s 265 A-to-Z entries-including information regarding events, individuals, organizations, and movements, and written by 80 contributors-focus on race riots, although, as explained in the introduction, the set’s broader focus is on white-black racially motivated violence. A list of entries begins the set, as well as a handy guide to topics….Most articles are about two pages long, though key topics are given more space (e.g., the desegregation article receives almost eight pages). Articles also contain lists for further reading and include bold-texted cross references. A smattering of black-and-white, half-page images is included. Over 20 relevant primary documents are grouped together at the end of the final volume….Recommended for larger public and academic collections.” Library Journal

“In addition to detailing examples of collective violence between white and black Americans since the Civil War, including riots, lynchings, vigilantism, assassinations, racist police violence, etc., the 265 entries presented by the editors in this two- volume encyclopedia cover a broad range of related subjects and themes. Among these, broadly speaking, are anti-lynching and civil rights organizations and activists, government organizations and officials, ideologies and policies, legislation and court cases, newspapers and reporting, racist organizations and leaders, literature and art, social issues, and war and the military. The entries, which range in length from 500 to 1000 words each, are cross-referenced and include bibliographical guides to further reading. Also included in the encyclopedia are a chronology; a selection of 23 primary documents; a short essay on the recent historiography of race riots; a subject index; and a bibliography of book, articles, and web sites.” Reference & Research Book News

 

The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America  (Louisiana State University Press, 2005; paperback, 2007).

Reviews

“Walter Rucker’s book, which examines slave resistance in a variety of revolts in the colonial and early national period, is the first to trace attitudes and actions of the early rebels to African sources…he is able to show that some of the most powerful and effective slave revolts had strong roots in particular African cultures.” John Thornton, Boston University