Professor of History
Moses Ochonu specializes in the modern history of Africa, with a particular focus on the colonial and postcolonial periods. Recent projects — a book and an article — have however taken him into precolonial topics and periods. Although he teaches survey and topical classes on all regions of Africa (and on all periods), his research interest lies in Nigeria. He is the author of three books. His first book is Colonial Meltdown: Northern Nigerian in the Great Depression, (Ohio University Press, 2009). His second book is Colonialism by Proxy: Hausa Imperial Agents and Middle Belt Consciousness in Nigeria, (Indiana University Press, 2014). His third book, Africa in Fragments: Essays on Nigeria, Africa, and Global Africanity (New York: Diasporic Africa Press, 2014), is a collection of analytical essays on a variety of topics relating to Nigeria, Africa, and global African communities. Topics covered in the essays include Afro-Arab relations; corruption and poverty; the impact of foreign aid on Africa; post-colonial nation building; the structure of the Nigerian state; the debate on African participation and possible complicity in the Atlantic slave trade; the challenges of democracy in Africa; postcolonial African migration to the West; relations between African Africans and African immigrants in the United States; African Islam and Islamic extremism, and more. Ochonu has published over a dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as several chapters in edited volumes. He is working on a fourth book project tentatively entitled "The Roving Diaspora: Nigerian Muslim Perspectives on Imperial Britain." With support in the form of a grant from the Vanderbilt Research Scholars Fellowship, Dr. Ochonu has been gathering materials for this project, which analyzes the travel narratives of Northern Nigerian Muslim travelers to Britain in colonial and early postcolonial times. These texts provide us with a tool to understand how African colonial subjects returned the familiar European narrative gaze on Africa. They also provide an entry into scholarly conversations about African narratives in/on Europe and about representations of the metropole in the experiential discourses of colonized peoples. Ochonu was twice the recipient of major fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). His research has also been supported by awards and fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the American Historical Association, Franklin Roosevelt Institute, and the British Library. His op-eds and commentaries on African topics have appeared in TIME magazine, Chronicle Review/ The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tennessean.com, History News Network, GlobalPost, Pambazuka, and several African newspapers and magazines.