UCLA alumna and award winning, critically acclaimed, feminist scholar Professor Nwando Achebe delivered the 2019 James S. Coleman Memorial Lecture on the intersections of performance art, history and self-knowledge centering women titled, “The Politics of Knowledge Production—A Reflective Journey and Dance about the Epistemology and Practice of African Gender History."
In this lecture, Nwando Achebe details her personal journey into becoming an Africanist and gender historian. Along the way, she considers questions relating to the ownership and production of Africanist knowledge; while highlighting several influential interpretive voices that have shaped received canon in ways that are at best, problematic; and at worst, Eurocentric. These voices have worked to interrupt and/or disrupt true understanding and knowing about African women and gender. She ends by offering up her own African- and gender-centered intervention into existing discourse and production of history.
Achebe is the Jack and Margaret Sweet Endowed Professor of History and a multi-award-winning historian at Michigan State University. She is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of West African History. Achebe received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 2000. In 1996 and 1998, she served as a Ford Foundation and Fulbright-Hays Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her research interests involve the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, and sexuality in Nigeria. Achebe is the author of six books. Her first book, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900-1960 was published in 2005 (Heinemann). Achebe’s second book, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe (Indiana University Press, 2011), winner of three book awards—Aidoo-Snyder, Barbara “Penny” Kanner, and Gita Chaudhuri book awards—is a full-length critical biography on the only female warrant chief and king in British Africa. Dr. Achebe is co-author of the 2018 History of West Africa E-Course Book (British Arts and Humanities Research Council). She is also co-editor, with William Worger and Charles Ambler of A Companion to African History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019), co-editor with Claire Robertson of Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective (Wisconsin University Press, 2019), and last, but not least, sole-author of the forthcoming Ohio University Press’ Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa. Achebe has received prestigious grants from Rockefeller Foundation, Wenner-Gren, Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright-Hays, Ford Foundation, World Health Organization, and National Endowment for the Humanities.
Event made possible by the Charles E. Young Research Library and the UCLA Department of History.
Reception catered by Sumptuous African Restaurant.