Slavery and Reform In West Africa: Toward Emancipation In Nineteenth-Century (Senegal and the Gold Coast)
Slavery and its Legacy in Ghana and the Diaspora
A Primer for Teaching African History. Ten Design Principles
The Long Nineteenth Century 1750-1914
Exchanges: A Global History Reader (volume 2)
Exchanges: A Global History Reader (volume 1)
Empires and Colonies in the Modern World
African Voices of the Global Past
African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts
Abina and the Important Men, a Graphic History
One major thread running through my research is the effort to excavate the discursive worlds and lived experiences of nineteenth century West Africans and make them accessible to contemporary African and American students, scholars, and publics. As of 2018, I will join Founding Editor Nwando Achebe as an Editor of the Journal of West African History alongside Saheed Aderinto and Harry Odamtten.
As well as peer-reviewed publications in the journals Ghana Studies, Slavery & Abolition, and The Journal of West African History, and scholarly books such as Slavery and Reform in West Africa (Ohio) and Slavery and its Legacy in Ghana and the Diaspora (Bloomsbury, 2018, with Rebecca Shumway), my work in nineteenth century West African history forms the basis of the educational graphic history (comic book) Abina and the Important Men (Oxford 2012) which won the American Historical Association’s James Harvey Robinson prize and the CABA Book Award for Older Readers.
My work in this area now revolves around addressing key problems in the relationship between history and its doubles (such as memory and heritage) and history education in Africa. Based on a plenty rather than a poverty model, my approach is to collaborate with educators to employ local history and indigenous knowledge systems in the classroom. My work on community-engaged histories of the Fante Confederation, an 1867–1873 political movement, was published in 2019 in History in Africa (with Tony Yeboah and Lindsay Ehrisman).
Like many of my peers, I was only introduced to world history when I arrived at my first teaching position and was suddenly required to expand my focus from two small parts of Africa in the nineteenth century to thousands of years on a global scale. Since those early years, I have found that my dual roles as a world historian and as an Africanist complement each other but also lead to intersecting critiques of the two fields. In the process, I became something of a critic of universalist, ecumenical world history and a proponent of an approach to the global past that engages a broader swath of history and heritage practitioners. This is partly the impetus behind the Uncovering History project, a series that I edit for Oxford University Press, which brings scholarly work from researchers around the world to the world history classroom through digital modules in which students ‘do history’, working with original evidence and scholarly methods to understand the global past. The first module in the series is my own Equiano or Vassa, African or American?
In 2008, I was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study African approaches to world history, which resulted in a number of publications such as “Towards an Historical Sociology of World History” and “World History and the Rainbow Nation: Educating Values in the United States and South Africa.” Recently, I authored a chapter about intersections between world history and heritage practices in a volume in honor of Jerry Bentley, which was just published by Hawaii University Press. I also make creative student-focused contributions to world history, including Empires and Colonies in the Modern World: A Global History (with Heather Streets-Salter) and The Long Nineteenth Century, 1750-1914: The Crucible of Modernity.
History & Comics
With the publication of Abina and the Important Men in 2012, I entered the world of graphic histories – intentional accounts of the past depicted through sequential, juxtaposed art and text. I have recently edited a special article-length review section of the American Historical Review on this medium, including authoring an introductory essay entitled “Getting Serious about Comic Histories“. Working with artists and historians, I have also begun to produce a series of one-page graphic biographies. They’re featured in this little video we made about how to read comics as part of a world history course.
In addition to this work and a number of conference papers, I have become seriously engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning in this area. While comics and graphic histories of all kinds have made their way into the social studies classroom, little serious work has been done on effective methodologies for employing sequential art-and-text to promote students’ acquisition and internalization of core history and social studies competencies. I’m gradually preparing a study focused on teachers’ use of comics in the history classroom, with the eventual goal of producing work that informs evidence-based pedagogy utilizing comics in the classroom.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
All of my work comes together in the area of scholarship around pedagogy and curriculum. Whether through world history contributions such as “Teaching World History at the College Level” in A Companion to World History, interventions in African history such as A Primer for Teaching African History and African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts (with Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia), editorial projects such as the Oxford University Press Uncovering History Project, as well as documentaries and consulting for the New York City Board of Education and Gates Ventures, my work stresses intentional design and high-impact practices for student success and achievement. In general, I believe that we are at a moment of crisis in history enrollment and studies, but it is a situation that can be generative of new ideas, strategies, and techniques. As historians, we have an opportunity share our ideas and to improve how history is taught.
In 2018, I received a $250,000 gift from the Agentives Fund to lead the development of a new approach to the first-year college history course. Entitled History for the 21st Century, this project takes a collaborative approach to the development of student-focused, responsive, effective History education at the general education and introductory level. We aim to build, and study, a new generation of highly effective materials, courses, and pedagogy.