Center for the Humanities, History, and African and African American Studies
Statement of Candidacy
I came to African Studies as an undergraduate and have considered it my interdisciplinary home ever since. I earned my B.A. (1979) and my Ph.D. (1987) in African History from Northwestern University, where I had the good fortune to study with a cohort of scholar/activists from across the globe. They taught me by word and deed the importance of combining academic work with a firm commitment to social justice.
My area of specialization is West Africa, although I explore themes that engage the continent’s history broadly. In addition to a range of articles, my authored/co-authored books include The Quills of the Porcupine: Asante Nationalism in an Emergent Ghana (Wisconsin, 1993), I Will Not Eat Stone: A Women’s History of Colonial Asante (Heinemann, 2000), and Tongnaab: The History of a West African God (Indiana, 2005). My edited and co-edited work includes Women in African Colonial Histories (Indiana, 2002) and Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress (Indiana, 2004). I am currently working on An Intimate History of the African Revolution: Kwame Nkrumah and the Women in Question.
I have been an active member of the ASA and several of its affiliate organizations since graduate school. In addition to being on the panels and papers committee (2002), I served on the Board of Directors (2003-06), where I headed up the Higher Education Initiative with CODESRIA and the Association of African Universities. I was a founding member of the Ghana Studies Association (orig. Akan Studies Council) and served as its President for six years and its Treasurer for ten. I have also been a longstanding member of the Women’s Caucus and the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars.
Wide-ranging interdisciplinary and administrative experiences provide me with the skills to represent a robust organization like the ASA. Though an historian by training, I have always held affiliate appointments in Gender/Women’s Studies and African/African American Studies. I currently direct the Center for the Humanities at Washington University, after chairing History for five years. In addition to directing the University of Illinois’ Title VI Center for African Studies (2003-06), I was Treasurer and on the Board of Directors of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (2006-2011) and helped organize its first Africa-based conference in Accra. I also have a longstanding commitment to publishing, having co-edited two prize-winning book series since 1997 (Heinemann’s Social History of Africa and Ohio University’s New African Histories). I co-edited the Journal of Women’s History for six years.
The ASA has made important gains since I concluded my time on the board, especially in terms of numbers, web presence, and financial resilience. I view the association’s priorities for the coming years to be: 1) stronger and more sustainable connections with scholars and organizations based in Africa and the diaspora, 2) a more diverse and inclusive membership, and 3) a position of greater consequence in U.S. debates on Africa and its study – from language training to policy.