Ariana Curtis

Museum Curator
Smithsonian Institution

An African American educator and a Black Panamanian engineering research technician raised Dr. Ariana Curtis, the youngest of their four children, in an Afro-Latinx affirming household. Government forms and ill-informed publics have wanted her to be either African American or Latina, but Curtis has always advocated for full and accurate representation of self above all.

The yearning to see lives represented whole led Curtis to travel and study the complex overlap of Blackness, identity, gender, diaspora and belonging. After earning a doctorate in anthropology, Curtis, a Fulbright scholar, joined the curatorial staff of the Smithsonian Institution. She currently serves as the first curator for Latinx Studies at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In this role, she researches, collects, exhibits, and publishes about Latinx- and Black-centered narratives in order to more accurately represent the history and culture of the Americas. Curtis serves on multiple committees for the Smithsonian's American Women History Initiative. Previously, she was curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) where she curated two bilingual exhibitions: Gateways/Portales, which received honorable mention in the 2017 Smithsonian Excellence in Exhibition Awards, and Bridging the Americas. She also organized Revisiting Our Black Mosaic, a symposium about race and immigration in Washington, D.C.

Curtis has appeared in national outlets including NPR's LatinoUSA, USA Today, and was a speaker at Ted Women 2018. She is passionate about Afro-Latinidad, her Omega Phi Beta sisterhood, social justice, radical love, the Duke Blue Devils, and hoop earrings. She has a BA from Duke University and an MA and PhD from American University.

[Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.]

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.