“Intimacy and Empire: Creating Over-lapping Diasporas in Postcolonial Nigeria”
Professor of History, Cornell University
The talk draws from my new research project, Curry Goat and Gari: West Indian Women in 20th Century Lagosian Society. Men and women from the Caribbean forged a long history of migration and contributed significantly to the intellectual and material understanding of diaspora. This project focuses on English-speaking Caribbean women who migrated to Nigeria as wives of Nigerian men. The vast majority of these women met their husbands in Britain or Canada. This research project explores how these women contributed to new patterns and conceptions of diaspora formation in the post-colonial period through their marital and residential choices and how they defined and maintained their Caribbean identities.
Judith A. Byfield, originally from Jamaica, is a Professor in the Department of History at Cornell University. A member of the field in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies, Byfield focuses primarily on African and Caribbean history. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College and her Ph.D. from Columbia University.
She is the author of The Great Upheaval: Women and Nation in Post-War Nigeria (Ohio University Press, forthcoming) and The Bluest Hands: A Social and Economic History of Women Indigo Dyers in Western Nigeria, 1890-1940 (Heinemann, 2002). She has co-edited several books: Global Africa (University of California Press, 2017) with Dorothy Hodgson; Africa and World War II, with Carolyn Brown, Timothy Parsons, Ahmad Sikainga, (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Gendering the African Diaspora: Women, Culture, and Historical Change in the Caribbean and Nigerian Hinterland with LaRay Denzer and Anthea Morrison (Indiana University Press, 2010). She has published articles in edited volumes and journals such as Canadian Journal of African Studies; Journal of African History; Meridians: A Journal on Feminism, Race, and Transnationalism, and Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender and the Black International.
Fellowships from Columbia, Dartmouth and Cornell universities supported her extensive research trips to Nigeria and the UK. In addition to institutional support, Byfield has received several national fellowships: Fulbright Global Scholar (2018-2019); Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2013-14); National Humanities Center – Hurford Fellowship (2007-08); National Humanities Endowment Fellowship (2003-04); and the Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship (2002-03).
Beyond publications, Byfield contributes to the field through service on editorial and advisory committees. She has served on editorial boards for Cambridge University Press – New Perspective in African History and Indiana University Press – Blacks in the Diaspora Series. In addition, she has been a member of advisory boards for: Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender and the Black International; Journal of African History; Contours – A Journal of the African Diaspora; and Women Writing Africa.
Byfield has served in numerous organizational capacities as well. She was Co-chair of the Program Committee for the Seventeenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities (June 1-4, 2017); former President of the African Studies Association (2011); as well as Chair of the Association of African Studies Programs (2002-2005).