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Curtis, Ariana



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 Director of Content for the Smithsonian’s Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past where she helps lead a national initiative that explores the history and legacy of race and racism in the United States and globally. She is also the first curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). In this role she leads museum research and collections related to: U.S. Latinx, U.S. Afro-Latinx, African American & Latinx, the African Diaspora in Latin America, and African American migrations to and engagements with Latin America. She is lead curator of the award winning NMAAHC Latinx collections portal and has served on multiple committees for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. Additionally, Ariana is a founding member of the Black Latinas Know Collective. Among her many conference presentations and keynote addresses, Ariana has spoken at SXSW, Chautauqua Institution, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Intercultural Leadership Institute, Politico Women Rule, and TED Women. Her TED talk has over 3 million views. She has published in The Public Historian, the anthology Pan African Spaces: Essays in Black Transnationalism and served as both author and editorial committee member for the publication 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 and was featured in the 2020 exhibition Voices of Resilience at the Springfield Museums in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. She is the recipient of the 2016 Community Sustainability Award from Afro-Latino Fest NYC, the 2016 and 2020 National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO) Professional of the Year, and the DC Mayor’s Office 2020 Somos Award for Art and Creative Economy. 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 in both Washington, D.C. and in Panama City, Panama. She 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 from American University, an MA in Public Anthropology from American University, and a BA from Duke University.

awards and honors