Gender & Sexuality in the African Diaspora

Wed October 20th 2021, 12:00 - 1:00pm

In histories of African diaspora, marriage and migration go hand in hand. Though studies typically focus on political and economic motives for migration, love and conjugality can be equally powerful drivers of diaspora. Join us in conversation with historians Judith A. Byfield and Sarah Zimmerman as they consider two key case studies of this phenomenon: (1) West Indian women migrants to 20th century Lagos; and (2) Afro-Vietnamese military households in francophone West Africa. Together, they will discuss how histories of gender, sexuality, and empire can shed new light on questions of intimacy and identity in the African diaspora. Join us on the 20th, for the second installment of our Producing Knowledge in and Of Africa and the African Diaspora event!

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Speaker Bios

Judith A. Byfield, originally from Jamaica, is Professor of History at Cornell University. She is the author of The Great Upheaval: Women and Nation in Post-War Nigeria (2021) and The Bluest Hands: A Social and Economic History of Women Indigo Dyers in Western Nigeria, 1890-1940 (2002).  She has co-edited several books: Global Africa (2017) with Dorothy Hodgson; Africa and World War II, with Carolyn Brown, Timothy Parsons, Ahmad Sikainga, (2015) and Gendering the African Diaspora: Women, Culture, and Historical Change in the Caribbean and Nigerian Hinterland with LaRay Denzer and Anthea Morrison (2010).  She has published articles in edited volumes and journals such as Canadian Journal of African Studies; The Journal of African History; Meridians: A Journal on Feminism, Race, and Transnationalism, and Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender and the Black International, and has received several national fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the  National Humanities Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Dr. Sarah J. Zimmerman is an Associate Professor of history at Western Washington University. Her research focuses on women and gender in West Africa, French Empire, and the Atlantic World. Her first monograph, Militarizing Marriage: West African Soldiers' Conjugal Traditions in Modern French Empire (Ohio UP, 2020), historicizes militarization, marriage, and colonialism by focusing on tirailleurs sénégalais households in West Africa and across French Empire. Her new research attends to the gendered production of history and memory on Gorée Island--a UNESCO World Heritage site in Senegal. She has published articles in the International Journal of African Historical Studies and Les Temps Modernes.