Photo of Afia Ofori-Mensa
  • Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies
  • Director, Office of Undergraduate Research


  • BA, University of Pennsylvania, 2002
  • MA, University of Michigan, 2005
  • PhD, University of Michigan 2010


Afia Ofori-Mensa is a specialist in narratives and cultures of communities of color in the 20th- and 21st-century U.S. Her primary research interests are in ethnic studies, American studies, women’s and gender studies, and popular culture studies. Her current book project examines relationships among femininity, race, and U.S. national identity using beauty pageantry and princess culture as case studies.

She is also a photographer; her piece The Winner was exhibited at Oberlin College in 2012. 

She came to Oberlin as an Oberlin College-University of Michigan Partnership Postdoctoral Fellow and is now assistant dean and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Brian Su-Jen Chung and Afia Ofori-Mensa. “The School and ‘The’: Race, Class, Sound, and Space in Step Up and Step Up 2.’’ In Movies, Moves, and Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films. Edited by Mark Evans and Pauline Manley. Equinox: London. 2016.

  • CAST/AAST 117 Immigrant and Second-Generation American Narratives
  • CAST/AAST 240 How to Win a Beauty Pageant: Race, Gender, Culture, and U.S. National Identity
  • CAST/AAST 345 Narratives of Passing


  • Afia Ofori-Mensa Invited on Radio Show

    June 11, 2018

    Afia Ofori-Mensa, assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and assistant professor of comparative American studies and Africana studies, was a guest on NPR’s On Point where she discussed the “makeover” of the Miss America pageant.

  • Afia Ofori-Mensa Featured on New Hampshire Public Radio

    May 12, 2014

    Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies Afia Ofori-Mensa was featured on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" segment, speaking about a class she teaches at Oberlin entitled "How To Win a Beauty Pageant." She explained how the class explores representation and identity in pageants as a way of understanding changes in national culture.


STRONG Returns for Its Fourth Year

September 20, 2018
STRONG launched its fourth program this summer, bringing together students from underrepresented demographics in STEM and Oberlin professors through research.