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Maryam K. Aziz

Maryam K. Aziz

2020-2021 Richards Center/Africana Research Center Postdoctoral Scholar

Mailing Address: 102 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802


  1. Ph.D., University of Michigan, May 2020
  2. B.A., Columbia University, May 2013


Maryam Aziz received her Ph.D. in American Culture at The University of Michigan where she defended her dissertation, “Built With our Empty Fists: The Rise and Circulation of Black Power Martial Arts”. The project explores why community organizers practiced or depicted martial arts and unarmed self-defense during the Black Power Era. It looks at how this phenomenon was informed shaped by U.S. militarism and transformed notions of manhood and womanhood in 20th-century Black activism. During her tenure at the Richards Center, she will prepare her book proposal and begin researching her second project, which historicizes martial arts within women’s organizing in the late 20th century. A scholar-practitioner, Maryam has an extensive background in Japanese-descended martial arts. On campuses and in local communities, she has taught inclusive, anti-hate crime self-defense workshops based on her research. 1n 2016, she created a series of accessible videos called the Self-Defense Starter Kit. As a publicly engaged scholar, she served as an Assistant Curator and Research Assistant for the 2017 Schomburg Center Exhibit, Black Power!, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the movement. She also serves as one of the Assistant Directors for the Schomburg Center’s Mellon Summer Humanities Institute for rising seniors.