Niya Bates studies African American material and cultural history in the United States from slavery through Jim Crow. She is interested in studying the intellectual histories of enslaved families, particularly resistance to slavery and the roots of Black radicalism in the U.S. Other research interests include rural cultural landscapes and environmental histories, the global history of the Black museum and historic preservation movement, and post-colonialism in the Atlantic world.
Niya earned both a B.A. in African and African American Studies and an M.A. in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. She holds a certificate in historic preservation, also from UVA. Her master’s thesis, titled “Blurred Lines: African American Community, Memory, and Preservation in the Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District,” explores historic preservation policy and the exclusion of rural Black communities in formal approaches to preserving America’s built environment. Prior to becoming a student at Princeton, she was a public historian at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello where she was director of the Getting Word African American Oral History Project, which was designed to document oral histories of people descended from the enslaved communities at Monticello.
Photo credit: Thomas Jefferson's Monticello