Darold Cuba

PhD Candidate

I am an intellectual historian of marronage, with a particular interest in the political, cultural, psychological and social history of the internal ideas of post-emancipation freedmen communities and the comparative phenomenons of marronage societies; the political thought and intellectual life of the prosopographical kinship networks of their founding families; United States Post Emancipation Marronage (USPEM), the interiorities of freedmen settlement development agency; their cultural heritage preservation, conservation and restoration strategies and efforts, and the diaspora and the transregional movement of people in, from and of marronage communities. I'm also broadly interested in systemic antiracism, institutional white supremacy, "Muscular AntiRacist Elite Captured Extreme Radical Chic (MARECERC)," and colonialism, all as globally constructed forces as they intersect - and interact - with the infrastructure of marronage overall.

My research project, provisionally titled "Landed Blackness: United States Post Emancipation Marronage (USPEM) - the political thought and intellectual history of post emancipation freedom colony (freedmen settlements) founding families," aims to explore what this particular group of freedmen specifically saw and thought post-emancipation that the other groups of freedmen did not. It prescribes to offer an intellectual history of American freedmen marronage political agency and thought, and excavate and highlight how such enterprising "landed" Black Americans navigated systemic racism and institutional white supremacy of the mid 19th and early 20th centuries in order to create and sustain free communities tied to inherited real estate lineages, concentric clan-based ancestral families, and interconnected relationship circles, which would sustain them not only physically and economically, but socially, culturally, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually as well, as a "psychic marronage" of sorts: defensive, autonomous enclaves with antiracist cultural value systems, institutions and structural societal norms, "where Black property owners had circled the wagons against outsiders—a fortress without walls." (Conrad, Sitton)

My dissertation builds upon my graduate research at Columbia (Oral History) and Harvard (Public Administration), and my work in social enterprise, digital technology innovation, media, and cultural heritage preservation, conservation and restoration: I’m the founder of MarronageOrg (the Marronage Organizing project {tMOp} Lab), which identifies, documents, organizes and archives all activity related to marronage history, research, heritage, preservation, activism and scholarship throughout the world, as well as serves as a research center to cultivate data intensive strategies and community based insights for cultural heritage preservation and workforce development of these unique and historic spaces, including a World Heritage "Marronage History Trail,” and corresponding cultural centers, exhibitions and programs specific to each site. MarronageOrg is home to the Mapping Freedom initiative (tMFi), its International Association of Freedom Colonies (iAFC) and Marronage Oral History Archives (MOHA), and serves as the digital humanities portion of my dissertation research, incubated at the inaugural cohort of the Cambridge Enterprises CRoSS (Commercialisation of Research out of Social Sciences) Ideas Incubator in 2023.

I currently serve as a Teaching Fellow at the Global History Lab and a Research Associate at the Black Advisory Hub. 

In 2022, I served concurrently as the Research Lead on HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) at the Project on Workforce at Havard (Massachusetts, MA), and the inaugural Ball-Dupont Foundation Oral Historian at the Lewes Historical Society. (Delaware, USA)

From 2021-2022, I served as a Research Academic at the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative, at the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership. (Massachusetts, USA)

From 2020-2021, I served as a Center for Public Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School (in the Fellowship for Serving African American Communities). (Massachusetts, USA)

From 2019-2020, I served as the inaugural Oral History Fellow at the Washington National Cathedral. (Washington, DC, USA)

From 2018-2020, I served as the Ivy League's first Wikipedia Fellow, at Columbia University, where I was also the inaugural Wikimedian-In-Residence at the Columbia & Barnard Libraries, and the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar at the CGUI (Computer Graphics and User Interfaces) Lab in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering. (New York, USA)

I'm a founding convener of the inaugural Cambridge Histories of Marronage (CHoM) workshop, a co-covenor of the Political Thought & Intellectual History (PTIH) workshop, and a former co-convenor of the World History Workshop (AY2022-2023).

marronage, freedmen settlements, freedom colonies, cultural heritage preservation, racism, white supremacy

Key publications

 Cuba, Darold. The Disruptive Possibilities of the Oral Narrative.” Let The Truth Be Told. Anniversary edition, Vol 2, Issue 1; November 2022. (p7) 

 Cuba, Darold. A River Road’s Clipper Family Descendant Makes Documenting, Preserving, Conserving and Restoring the History of ‘Freedom Colonies’ Like This His Life’s Work. The Bridge That Carried Us Over. American University Museum Project Space. Summer 2022 (p120).  

Cuba, Darold; Nakaima, Leah. Pan-African Decade of Return: Reimagining Pan-Africanism beyond Ghana’s Year of Return and the UN Decade for People of African Descent. The Kennedy School Review, Harvard Kennedy School. Spring Issue 2021 (p52).

Cuba, Darold. Indigenous scholar’s work informs new Columbia University + Wikipedia Initiatives.” OHMA, Columbia Oral History Master of Arts, May 16, 2019.

Cuba, Darold. The Importance of Preserving the Histories of Freedmen’s Towns.” Houston Center for Photography's SPOT Magazine, Spring 2019 issue.

Cuba, Darold.Wikimedia to the Rescue? How Wikipedia’s Crowdsourcing Model Could Catalyze the Field of Oral History.OHMA, Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts, December 22, 2018.