Associate Professor


Carol Magee specializes in African contemporary art with an emphasis on photography. Her current research examines African urban photography and sound art that investigates emotional, physical, psychological, or philosophical experiences of place.  As a Co-PI for the Learning from Artists’ Archives project she is actively engaged with North Carolina artists, archivists, and students, helping facilitate the growth of communities that benefit from mutual learning and building on one another’s expertise. Her first book, Africa in the American Imagination: Popular Culture, Racialized Identities and African Visual Culture (University Press of Mississippi, 2011) analyzed how popularly circulated objects significantly shape knowledge about Africa and the implications of that knowledge for Americans and Africans alike. Her interest in the structures of knowledge production also undergirds a collection of essays co-edited with Joanna Grabski (Dennison University). African art, Interviews, Narratives: Bodies of Knowledge at Work (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013) considers how interviews, interlocutors, and art historical narratives engage and entangle in the processes of scholarly production. She is a founding member of UNC’s Editorial Board as a partner in African Arts’ publishing consortium. After receiving her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara, she held a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellowship at Elon University.

Select publications

Lagos is Everywhere: Digital Sound Art and Ever-Expanding Possibilities” with Emeka Ogboh Critical Interventions 8, no. 3, (2014), 342-347.

“There is a There There” Photography & Culture (March 2014), 41-62.

“Urban landscapes and photography’s cadence, belonging and stillness” in Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis, ed. Addis Ababa: the Enigma of the ‘New’ and the ‘Modern’ (Addis Ababa: Museum of Modern Art and Addis Ababa University, 2013), 57-72.

“The Work of Interviews” with J. Grabski, in Joanna Grabski and Carol Magee, eds. Bodies of Knowledge: Interviews, African art, and Scholarly Narratives (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 1-11.

“Photography, Narrative Interventions and (Cross)cultural Representations ” in Joanna Grabski and Carol Magee, eds. Bodies of Knowledge: Interviews, African art, and Scholarly Narratives (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 56-69.

Experiencing Lagos through StillnessEvental Aesthetics 1, no.3 (Fall 2012), 41-49.

Social Fabric: gold mining, diaspora, and word and image in the paintings of Papa EsselAfrican Arts 43 no. 4 (Winter 2010): 8-19.

“Representing Africa? Celebrities, Photography and Vanity Fair,” in Robert Clarke, ed. Celebrity Colonialism: Fame, Power and Representation in Colonial and Postcolonial Cultures (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009), 275-290.

Spatial Stories: Photographic Practice and Urban BelongingAfrica Today 54/2 (Winter 2007): 108-129.


The interdisciplinary and cross-cultural nature of African visual culture frames her teaching and research. In both she emphasizes meanings at the site of production and local use as well as meanings at the sites of consumption (generated by the circulation of objects in non-local environments such as the international art market, tourist markets, museums, and various other contexts).

Undergraduate courses:

  • Africa in the American Imagination (ARTH 453)
  • African Art Survey (ARTH 155)
  • Art of African Independence (ARTH 300)
  • Contemporary African Art (ARTH 488)
  • Masks and Africa (ARTH 353)
  • Urban Africa and Global Mobility (ARTH 555)
  • Picture That! History of Photography from Tintypes to Instagram

Graduate Seminars:

  • African Modernisms
  • African Photography
  • The Art of the City
  • Professional Development
  • Art Historical Methods