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Kyle Mays

Assistant Professor


Contact Information

Email    mayskyle@g.ucla.edu
Office  1328 Rolfe Hall

Kyle T. Mays (he/his) is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and History at UCLA. He is a transdisciplinary scholar of urban history and studies, Afro-Indigenous Studies, and contemporary popular culture. He is the author of Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America (SUNY Press, 2018). He is currently finishing two manuscripts. The first, forthcoming with Beacon Press is titled, An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States, which will be a part of their ReVisioning American History series. This book argues that African enslavement and Indigenous dispossession have been central to the founding of the United States, and explores how Black and Indigenous peoples have resisted U.S. democracy from the founding of the U.S. to the present. The second manuscript is tentatively titled, Detroit vs. Every(body): The Sites of Dispossession and Transformation in a Modern American City (currently under review). The book argues that the transformation of modern Detroit (from the late 19th until the emergency management era) is rooted in the simultaneous processes of Black American and Indigenous dispossession. He also has a forthcoming chapter, “Blackness and Indigeneity” in the collection, 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, Keisha Blain and Ibram Kendi (eds.), (New York: Random House, 2020).

Dr. Mays has received numerous fellowships, including a Newberry Library Research Fellowship and Carolina diversity postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During the 2019-2020 academic year, he was a Mays Mellon Visiting Scholar at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. 

Dr. Mays regularly teaches courses on urban history, Afro-Indigenous studies, American Indian Studies, and popular culture. He works with graduate students interested in 20th century urban history, comparative histories of race in the U.S., global indigeneity, and popular culture, historically and today.

Mays received his B.A. from James Madison College at Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Visiting Fellow, The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, Emory University

Institute on Inequality and Democracy Luskin Faculty Seed Grants, “Discourse and Dispossession: Culture, Language, and Black and Indigenous Freedom Dreams in Detroit. 

Institute of American Cultures (IAC) Research Grant for project, “Black Belonging, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Radical Resurgence on Turtle Island.”

University of California Consortium for Black Studies in California Fellowship

Selected Publications


Mays, K. An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press), ReVisioning American History, (Expected 2021).

2021    Mays, K. Detroit vs. Every Body: The Sites of Dispossession and Transformation in a Modern American City (Expected, 2021).

2018    Mays, K. Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America (Albany: SUNY Press, 2018); “Native Traces” Series, edited by Jace Weaver & Scott Richard Lyons. Finalist, “Best First Book Prize” for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (2019)


Journal Articles

2020    Rice, AJ & Mays, K., “The Boondocks, Black History, and Black Lives Matter: Or, Why Black Popular Culture Matters for Black Millennials.” Popular Culture Studies Journal. (In press). 

2019    Mays, K. “Decolonial Hip Hop: Indigenous Hip Hop and Disrupting Settler Colonialism.” Cultural Studies, Vol. 33(3): 460-479.

2016    Mays, K. “Pontiac’s Ghost in the Motor City: Indigeneity and the Discursive Construction of Modern Detroit.” The Middle West Review, 2(02): 115-142.

2016    Mays, K. “Promoting Sovereignty, Rapping Mshki (Medicine): A Critical Anishinaabe Reading of Rapper Tall Paul’s ‘Prayers in a Song.’” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 22(02): 195-209.

2013    Mays, K. “Transnational Progressivism: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Universal Races Congress of 1911.” American Indian Quarterly 37(4): 244-261.


Book Chapters

2020    Mays, K. “Blackness and Indigeneity.” In Keisha Blain and Ibram Kendi’s (eds.), 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (New York: Random House, 2020). (In press).

2020 Mays, K. “Black Liberation and Indigenous Erasure: Black Belonging on Turtle Island from           Black Power to Black Lives Matter.” In Emilio del Valle Escalante, Localizing

Decoloniality in Global Indigenous Studies (Durham: Duke University Press). (In press, expected 2020). 

2018    Mays, K. & Whalen, K. “Decolonizing Indigenous Education in the Postwar City: Native

Women’s Activism from Southern California to the Motor City.” In Linda Smith, Eve Tuck, & K. Wayne Yang, Indigenous and Decolonization Studies in Education (Routledge: 116-130).  

2014    Mays, K. “Humanities and Sciences at Work: Liberatory Education for Millennials.” In Burton, A., Winkelmes, M.A., & Mays, K. (eds.). An Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairie. Urbana: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: 119-122.