Dr. Robin Boylorn, professor of interpersonal and intercultural communication in the department of communication studies, received the Mid-Career Scholar Award from the National Communication Association (NCA) Ethnography Division. The award is one of the inaugural career-oriented awards of the Ethnography Division.
Established in 2022, recipients of the Mid-Career Scholar Award from the Ethnography Division of the NCA are selected based on outstanding contributions to ethnographic scholarship and artistry, with a consideration of teaching, mentoring and service related to ethnography. Mid-Career scholars are those who received their most recent degree in 2001 or later.
Boylorn received the award at the NCA Annual Convention in New Orleans in November. She said the award was especially significant because she received it exactly 20 years after attending her first NCA convention in 2002.
“I didn’t realize at that time that 20 years later I would have carved out a space for myself, my stories, and my career in the academy, or that the impact of my work would be so far-reaching,” Boylorn said. “This award is meaningful because it reminds me of where I come from, but it also reminds me that I have more work to do. The middle of my career is not the end.”
Boylorn’s main research areas include diversity and identity studies and representation, focusing primarily on the lived experiences of Black women in the U.S. American south. Ethnography aims to fully understand a social or cultural group, and autoethnography is a form of ethnographic research seeking to connect personal experiences to wider cultural, political and social meanings and understandings.
“I am proud to have work in the world that helps Black women feel seen,” Boylorn said. “I am proud of my book, Sweetwater, and the way it humanizes rural Black women through their stories. I am also proud of the ways I have established a scholarly, critical and creative voice that is recognizable, credible and accessible within and without the academy.”
Moving forward, Boylorn said she is excited for the next chapter of her career as Holle Endowed Chair of Communication Arts and director of the Holle Center for Communication Arts.
“My new roles will allow me to continue and expand my cultural studies research, imagine and influence the future of storytelling, and initiate and participate in important conversations in the field – bridging communication and the larger community,” Boylorn said.
UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit cis.ua.edu/research.