Opal Palmer Adisa, PhD
Professor and Director, Institute for Gender & Development Studies, University of the West Indies


Internationally recognized writer and performer, Opal has over twenty publications to her name, both scholarly and creative, that centralize women, explore issues of gender, and the interstice of Caribbean and African Diaspora history. Her dissertation, Three landscapes: Jamaican women Writers at Home and in the Diaspora, examines the representation of women, and interrogates womanhood by looking through the lens of women writers in Jamaica, in Britain as well as in the USA. From her very first publication, Bake- Face and other Guava Stories (1986), Opal has tackled the issue of women’s place in society, in particular, how women navigate patriarchal structures that restrict their sexual and physical mobility, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.

With almost three decades in the academy, Opal has taught at Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and University of the Virgin Islands. She was the Chair of the Diversity Studies program at California College of the Arts and Distinguished Professor of Literature and Creative Writing. During her tenure at CCA, Opal was appointed Chair of the Faculty Diversity Committee, and served in this capacity for six years, while also helping to establish an MFA in creative writing program. She was former president of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS) and in that capacity worked on coalition building, agency and retention for women in the academy.

Opal believes the arts and performance are the most effective way to effect social change in the Caribbean, and therefore uses theatre and literature to engage dialogue on the aforementioned issues. As Director of the Institute for Gender & Development Studies (IGDS), Opal will continue her focus on women and men in the domestic space as well as create dialogue around homophobic and transgender issues. Opal lives and works in Mona, Jamaica.