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Curtis, Ariana

Curator, Latinx Studies

Racial constructions in the U.S.; Latino urban experiences; Blackness in U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean; African Diaspora; urban immigration/migrations; neoliberalism/globalization

Professional Biography

  • Dr. Ariana A. Curtis is the first curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In this role she is responsible for museum research and collections related to: U.S. Latinx, U.S. Afro-Latinx, African American & Latinx, African Diaspora, and African American migrations to and engagement with Latin America. She serves as a curatorial advisor to the Molina Family Latino Galleries, the first permanent Smithsonian exhibition space dedicated to Latinx history and culture, which will open at the National Museum of American History in 2021. Additionally, Ariana serves on multiple committees for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, a Smithsonian wide initiative to amplify women's voices and illuminate women’s pivotal roles in our shared history. 

    Among her many conference presentations and keynote addresses, Ariana has spoken at SXSW, Ted Women 2018, Chautauqua Institution, Afro-Latin Talks at the Schomburg, The Intercultural Leadership Institute, and Politico Women Rule. She has published in The Public Historian, the anthology Pan African Spaces: Essays in Black Transnationalismand served as both author and editorial committee member for Smithsonian American Women: Remarkable Objects and Stories of Strength, Ingenuity and Vision from the National Collection. Ariana has appeared in national media outlets including LatinoUSA and The Root.

    Previously, Ariana was curator of Latino Studies at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. In addition to leading Latinx-centered public programming, she curated two bilingual exhibitions: Gateways/Portales, which received honorable mention in the 2017 Smithsonian Excellence in Exhibition Awards and Bridging the Americas, which was exhibited both in Washington, D.C. and in Panama City, PanamaShe also organized Revisiting Our Black Mosaic, a 2014 symposium about race and immigration in the Washington, D.C. metro area, co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 

    Ariana is a Fulbright scholar with a doctorate in Anthropology (program in race, gender, and social justice) from American University, an MA in Public Anthropology from American University, and a BA from Duke University.