Jessica S. Samuel

“From Virgin Land to Virgin Islands: Conserving America’s Paradise”

  • Title “From Virgin Land to Virgin Islands: Conserving America’s Paradise”
  • Education BA in Anthropology and African American Studies, Wesleyan University
    MEd, University of Missouri St. Louis

I am a Black Caribbean woman who hails from the U.S. Virgin Islands. My research looks at race, education, colonialism and the environment, including where they might converge, in the United States and its territories. My academic work has covered topics such as the decolonial uses of Black vernacular in the public school classroom to colonial land practices in the Caribbean.

My dissertation, “From Virgin Land to Virgin Islands: Conserving ‘America’s Paradise’,” focuses on how the National Park Service in coordination with wealthy White Americans has created a “crisis of Paradise” by fostering a consumptive tourism industry on the island of St. John. Specifically looking at how Euroamerican notions of conservation and the environment have harmed politically and socially marginalized communities in their pursuit of intellectual, social and physical liberation, my dissertation seeks to reveal the inconspicuous manifestations of U.S. imperialism and anti-Blackness in the Caribbean.

I am an educator-scholar by training and passion. Prior to Boston University, I taught high school English and Writing as a Teach for America corps member in St. Louis, Missouri. I am an alumna of the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers Fellowship program and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. In 2018, after serving as an education policy fellow, I was appointed to the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In 2019, I was awarded Outstanding Teaching Fellow by my program.

You can view my CV here.

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