History Department and Journal of West African History
Michigan State University
The first African Studies Association meeting that I attended was in Orlando, Florida in November 1995. I had just begun my graduate studies in African History at UCLA. That ASA was momentous for two reasons: first, I witnessed first hand the calling to order of Philip Curtin for an incendiary editorial that he had written the previous March in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled the “Ghettoizing of African History”; and second, I became one of two graduate student founding members of the Association of African Women Scholars headed by Obioma Nnaemeka. The experience of that first ASA thus provided me the assurance; in many ways, the guarantee, that I was becoming a member of an association, which on one hand, demanded respect and accountability of its members; and on the other, provided a space for professional support and nurture of junior African-born scholars by senior female faculty.
In the more than 20 years since my introduction to ASA, I have continued to come back year after year to seek out a space of intellectual exchange, nourishment, and affirmation. I have presented papers, chaired panels, organized panels, and most recently, completed a two-year stint as Co-Convernor of the Women’s Caucus. It is at ASA that I honed my presentation skills; tested new ideas; that my intellectual journey and maturity continue to be realized. ASA has given so much to me; and I treasure the opportunity to give back; to pass forward, that which was given me, namely, mentorship, support, and a safe place for intellectual curiosity and advancement. If allowed the opportunity to serve on the ASA Board, my mission will be to reach out to young Africanist scholars, much like my ASA mentors did me, in the hopes that they too find in ASA a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment for growth.
I am an award-winning author and professor of history at Michigan State University. I am also the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of West African History, published by MSU Press. I received my Ph.D. from UCLA in 2000. In 1996 and 1998, I served as a Ford Foundation and Fulbright-Hays Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I was also a 2000 Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Fellow. My research interests involve the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, and sexuality in Nigeria. My first book, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland was published by Heinemann. My second book, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe, winner of three book awards—Aidoo-Snyder Book Award, Barbara “Penny” Kanner Book Award, and Gita Chaudhuri Book Award—is a full length critical biography on the only female warrant chief and king in colonial Nigeria, and arguably British Africa. The writing was funded by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. In addition to Wenner-Gren, I have received a number of other prestigious grants including awards from Rockefeller Foundation, Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright-Hays Ford Foundation, WHO, and the NEH.