research interests

For the past two decades, Kia Caldwell has built an active research program that focuses on the intersections among gender, race, black feminism, health policy, and HIV/AIDS in Brazil and the United States, Women’s and Gender Studies, African American/African Diaspora Studies, Brazilian and Latin American Studies.


Her research has contributed to five major areas of scholarship:

(1) Intersectionality scholarship

(2) Citizenship studies

(3) Research on black feminism in Brazil and Latin America

(4) Public health research, particularly on health policy and HIV/AIDS

(5) African Diaspora Studies


Her scholarly contributions in these areas highlight how the relationship between race and gender shapes black women’s experiences, as well as activism, in Brazil, the United States, and other areas of the Americas.  Her publications in both English and Portuguese have been instrumental in the development of Afro-Brazilian Studies and scholarship on black women’s experiences in Brazil, and have spawned a noticeable increase in research in these areas.





  • Faculty Learning Community on Strategy and Leadership, Center for Faculty Excellence, UNC-Chapel Hill (2015-2016).
  • BRIDGES Academic Leadership Program for Women, Friday Center, Chapel Hill, NC (2014).
  • Academic Leadership Program, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, UNC-Chapel Hill (2013).
  • Leadership Development Program, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, NC (2012).




  • Director of Faculty Diversity Initiatives, College of Arts and Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill (2015-2017).
  • Co-Director, African Diaspora Fellows Program, UNC-Chapel Hill (2014-present).


Health Equity

Brazil’s leadership role in the fight against HIV has brought its public health system widespread praise. But the nation still faces serious health challenges and inequities. Though home to the world’s second largest African-descendant population, Brazil failed to address many of its public health issues that disproportionately impact Afro-Brazilian women and men.


Kia Lilly Caldwell draws on twenty years of engagement with activists, issues, and policy initiatives to document how the country’s feminist health movement and black women’s movement have fought for much-needed changes in women’s health. Merging ethnography with a historical analysis of policies and programs, Caldwell offers a close examination of institutional and structural factors that have impacted the quest for gender and racial health equity in Brazil. As she shows, activists have played an essential role in policy development in areas ranging from maternal mortality to female sterilization. Caldwell’s insightful portrait of the public health system also details how its weaknesses contribute to ongoing failures and challenges while also imperiling the advances that have been made.


negras in brazil

For most of the twentieth century, Brazil was widely regarded as a "racial democracy"-a country untainted by the scourge of racism and prejudice. In recent decades, however, this image has been severely critiqued, with a growing number of studies highlighting persistent and deep-seated patterns of racial discrimination and inequality. Yet, recent work on race and racism has rarely considered gender as part of its analysis.


In Negras in Brazil, Kia Lilly Caldwell examines the life experiences of Afro-Brazilian women whose stories have until now been largely untold. This pathbreaking study analyzes the links between race and gender and broader processes of social, economic, and political exclusion. Drawing on ethnographic research with social movement organizations and thirty-five life history interviews, Caldwell explores the everyday struggles Afro-Brazilian women face in their efforts to achieve equal rights and full citizenship. She also shows how the black women's movement, which has emerged in recent decades, has sought to challenge racial and gender discrimination in Brazil. While proposing a broader view of citizenship that includes domains such as popular culture and the body, Negras in Brazil highlights the continuing relevance of identity politics for members of racially marginalized communities. Providing new insights into black women's social activism and a gendered perspective on Brazilian racial dynamics, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Latin American Studies, African diaspora studies, women's studies, politics, and cultural anthropology.


gendered citizenships

Drawing on ethnographic research with underrepresented communities in the Caribbean, Europe, South America, and the United States, this wide-ranging anthology examines the gendered dimensions of citizenship experiences and uses them as a point of departure for rethinking contemporary practices of social inclusion and national belonging.


peer-reviewed articles

  • Vijaya Hogan, Edna M. de Araujo, Kia L. Caldwell, Sarah Gonzalez-Nahm, and Kristin Z. Black, “‘We Black Women Have to Kill a Lion Everyday’: Toward an Intersectional Analysis of Racism and Social Determinants of Health in Brazil,” Social Science and Medicine, Special Issue on Racism and Health (available online July 2017).
  • Niasha Fray and Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2017. “Communication between Middle SES Black Women and Healthcare Providers about HIV Testing,” Journal of the National Medical Association, 109(2): 115-125.
  • Sonia Alvarez, Kia Lilly Caldwell, and Agustín Lao-Montes.  2017. “Guest Editors’ Introduction: Translations across Black Feminist Diasporas,” Meridians, 14(2): v-ix.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell. 2016. “Charting a Path Towards Racial Health Equity in Brazil: Health Activism, the State, and Policy Development,” National Political Science Review, (18)1: 89-109.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell. 2016. “Black Feminism and HIV/AIDS in Brazil:  Intersections and Ruptures,” Special Issue on Afro-descendant Feminisms in the Americas, Meridians, 14(1): 121-147.
  • Sonia Alvarez and Kia Lilly Caldwell. 2016. “Promoting Feminist Amefricanidade: Bridging Black Feminist Cultures and Politics in the Americas,” Meridians, 14(1): v-xi.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell and Allison Mathews. 2015. “The Role of Relationship Type, Risk Perception, and Condom Use in Middle Socioeconomic Status Black Women’s HIV-prevention Strategies,” Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships, 2(2): 91-120.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell. 2008. “Mulheres Negras, Militancia Política, e Justiça Social no Brasil,” [Black Women, Political Activism, and Social Justice in Brazil], Gênero (Brazil), 8(2): 53-69.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell and Margaret Hunter. 2004. “Creating a Feminist Community on a Women of Color Campus,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 25(1): 23-38.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell. 2003. “‘Look at Her Hair’: The Body Politics of Black Womanhood in Brazil,” Transforming Anthropology, 11(2): 18-29.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2001. “Racialized Boundaries: Women’s Studies and the Question of ‘Difference’ in Brazil,” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 70, no. 3, 2001, pp. 219-230.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell, “Fronteiras da diferença: raça e a mulher no Brasil,” Revista Estudos Feministas (Journal of Feminist Studies-Brazil), 8(2): 91-108.



book chapters

  • Edna Maria de Araujo, Vijaya Hogan, and Kia Lilly Caldwell. 2016.  “Interseccionalidade e a saúde das mulheres negras no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos: uma proposta para a equidade em saúde.”  In Cenários da Saúde da População Negra no Brasil: diálogos e pesquisas, edited by Regina Marques de Souza Oliveira, 189-204.  Cruz da Almas, Bahia: Editora UFRB.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2016. “Black Women’s Studies in the United States and Brazil:  The Transnational Politics of Knowledge Production.”  In Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production: Diaspora and Black Transnational Scholarship in the USA and Brazil, edited by Gladys Mitchell-Walthour and Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, 15-25.  New York:  Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2014. “A militância das mulheres negras e o desenvolvimento do campo de saúde da população negra no Brasil” (The Militance of Black Women and the Development of the Field of the Health of the Black Population in Brazil).  In O Movimento de Mulheres Negras no Brasil, edited by Joselina da Silva and Amauri Mendes, 91-105.  Belo Horizonte: Nandyala.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell and Lisa Bowleg.  2012. “Paralelos opostos: raça e status socioeconomico em pesquisas e políticas sobre HIV/Aids no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos.”  In Saúde da População Negra (Second Edition), edited by Luis Eduardo Batista, Jurema Werneck and Fernanda Lopes, 314-337.  Associação Brasileira de Pesquisadores Negros.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2010. “Advocating for Citizenship and Social Justice: Black Women Activists in Brazil.” In The Public and The Private: Latin American Women’s Movements, edited by Nathalie Lebon and Elizabeth Maier, 175-186.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell, Kathleen Coll, Tracy Fisher, Renya Ramirez, and Lok Siu.  2009. “Collectivity and Comparativity:  A Feminist Approach to Citizenship.”  In Gendered Citizenships: Transnational Perspectives on Culture, Activism, and Knowledge Production, edited by Kia Lilly Caldwell, Kathleen Coll, Tracy Fisher, Renya Ramirez, and Lok Siu, 1-15.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2009. “Transnational Black Feminism in the 21st Century: Perspectives from Brazil.” New Social Movements in the African Diaspora, edited by Leith Mullings, 105-120.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kia Lilly Caldwell.  2008. “Intersectional Health Policy in Brazil: Race and Gender as Determinants of Health and Wellness.” In The Intersectional Approach: Transforming Women’s and Gender Studies through Race, Class, and Gender, edited by Michele T. Berger and Kathleen Guidroz, 118-135.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.