James Turner

Most Influential Person

American anthropologist -- Founding Director of Africana Studies & Research Center

Why Is James Turner Influential?

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James Turner is the founding Director of the Africana Studies & Research Center, founded 1969, and is a professor emeritus of African and African American Politics and Social Policy at Cornell University. Referring to the formative years of the Africana Studies & Research Center, Turner recollected, “We had to begin the process of changing that environment [academia without African American studies]….We were the first generation of Africana studies.” Turner initiated the term “Africana Studies” to conceptualize the comprehensive studies of the African diaspora and the three primary global Black communities–Africa, North America, and the Caribbean. The Africana paradigm is now widely adopted by educational programs as the epistemology for the field of Black Studies.

Turner also organized Cornell’s Council on African Studies, was a founding member of TransAfrica, an African American lobbying organization, and he was national organizer of the Southern Africa Liberation Support Committee that pressed the anti-apartheid campaign in the United States. As a Schomburg Research Fellow at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Turner conducted research on Malcolm X’s political philosophy that served as the basis for his work on the award-winning PBS series Eyes on the Prize. As the recipient of the Association of Black Sociologists’ Award of Distinction, he has served as president of the African Heritage Studies Association and has been on the editorial boards of several leading Black Studies journals.


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James Turner's Published Works

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Total number of citations to an author for the works they published in a given year. This highlights publication of the most important work(s) by the author

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What Schools Are Affiliated With James Turner?

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