Nwando Achebe

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Nwando Achebe
NationalityNigerian-American
Notable work
Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland: 1900–1960, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe, History of West Africa E-Course Book, A Companion to African History, Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective, Female Kings and Merchant Queens in Africa.
RelativesChinua Achebe (father)
SchoolWest Africanist, oral historian, feminism
InstitutionsMichigan State University, University of California, Los Angeles
Main interests
Women, gender, oral history, Sexuality, Africa, West Africa
Websitenwandoachebe.com

Nwando Achebe is a Nigerian-American academic, feminist scholar, and multi-award-winning historian.[1] She is the Jack and Margaret Sweet Endowed Professor of History[2] and the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Social Science[3] at Michigan State University. She is also founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of West African History.[4]

Background[edit]

Nwando Achebe was born in Enugu, eastern Nigeria[5] to Nigerian writer, essayist, and poet, Chinua Achebe, and Christie Chinwe Achebe, a professor of education.[6] She is the spouse of Folu Ogundimu, professor of journalism at Michigan State University, and mother of a daughter, Chino.[7] Her older brother, Chidi Chike Achebe is a physician-executive.

Education and career[edit]

Achebe received her Ph.D. in African History from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. An oral historian by training, her areas of expertise are West African History, women, gender and sexuality histories. In 1996 and 1998, she served as a Ford Foundation and Fulbright-Hays Scholar-in-Residence at The Institute of African Studies and The Department of History and International Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her first academic position was as an Assistant Professor of History at the College of William and Mary. She then moved to Michigan State University in 2005 as a tenured Associate Professor, Professor in 2010, and is presently the Jack and Margaret Sweet Endowed Professor.

Scholarship[edit]

She has published six books. Her first book, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900–1960, was published by Heinemann in 2005. Heralded as a “landmark in African historiography[8] by Distinguished Professor and author, Isidore Okpewho, and "a major event in African gender studies publishing,"[9] by Chancellor Professor and feminist scholar, Obioma Nnaemeka, Achebe's Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings represents an important contribution to understanding gender and women's history in Africa, as well as political and religious change in the colonial period. A significant and sustained intervention into debates over feminist historical methodology, the book centers what Achebe theorizes as the “female spiritual principle” and northern Igbo women's lives in ways that existing texts on Igbo history do not, by presenting both as active participants in the making of northern Igboland. Throughout the study, northern Igbo gendered histories are used to challenge received orthodoxies that characterize African women as subordinate by raising questions and presenting evidence concerning the true nature of female power and authority within this particular Igbo society. The author identifies what she considers the religious, economic and political structures that allowed women to achieve measures of power during the precolonial or tupu ndi ocha abia epoch; as well as the effect of colonialism and missionary encroachment on these old structures and on women's choices. As a piece of scholarship, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings is unsurpassed in its engagement with indigenous meaning, interpretation and understanding.

Her second book, the critically acclaimed The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe, was published in 2011 by Indiana University Press. It is a full-length biography on the only female warrant chief and king in British Africa, and it has won three book awards: the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize, The Barbara "Penny" Kanner Book Prize and the Gita Chaudhuri Book Prize.[10] A Leeds African Studies Bulletin review of the book calls it “one of the most compellingly argued, rigorously researched scholarly writings in the fields of history and women studies in colonial Igbo society, Nigeria and Africa."[11] The biography, a fascinating case study of an extraordinary Igbo woman, Ahebi Ugbabe (c. 1885–1948)—who during the course of her life transformed herself into a female king—reveals much about the shifting bases of gendered power under British indirect rule and the ways in which Igbo women and men negotiated and shaped the colonial environment. Drawing on extensive oral research, Achebe situates Ahebi's life within the context of multiple gendered transformations into the female masculinities of female Headman, female Warrant Chief, female King and female husband. At the same time, the biography delineates the limits of such gendered transformations. In sum, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria illuminates one woman's agency in remapping the terrain of traditional and colonial gendered politics in her district.

Dr. Achebe is a co-author of the 2018 History of West Africa E-Course Book (British Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2018), “a textbook aimed at West African students taking West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) History Paper 1, “West Africa and the Wider World from Earliest Times to 2000.”[12] She is also co-editor with William Worger and Charles Ambler of A Companion to African History (Wiley Blackwell, 2019), and with Claire Robertson, Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019). Achebe's 2020 Female Monarchs and Merchants Queens in Africa is published by Ohio University Press.[13] Laura Seay of The Washington Post, writes of Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa, “A brilliant, thoroughly engaging and accessible book, ‘Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa’ is a fascinating and quick read that shows the many, many ways that women across the African continent have always led and continue to lead. It lays permanently to rest the notion of African women as passive or powerless and shows that women play key roles in every sector of society. It also makes a powerful case that African societies have more in common in this regard than differences, despite the continent's size and diversity. Finally, Achebe makes a welcome contribution to efforts to bring analysis of queer identities to African Studies, showing definitively that notions of gender and sexuality have long been fluid and adaptable on the continent."[14]

Grants and awards[edit]

Nwando Achebe has received grants from the Wenner Gren Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright-Hays, Ford Foundation, the World Health Organization and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is also the recipient of three book awards.[15]

Publications[edit]

  • Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900–1960. ISBN 0325070784
  • The Female King of Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe. ISBN 0253222486
  • History of West Africa E-Course Book. ISBN 978-9983960204
  • A Companion to African History. ISBN 047065631X
  • Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective. ISBN 9780299321109
  • Female Monarchs and Merchants Queens in Africa. ISBN 0821424076

References[edit]

  1. ^ Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. "Seeing The Whole Dance: Nwando Achebe WS '00 Brings New Perspective to African Women's Power". Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Nwando Achebe, Department of History". Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion". Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  4. ^ OkayAfrica International Edition. "Why It is Crucial to Locate the "African" in African Studies". okayafrica.com. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  5. ^ Daily Trust Newspaper. "Nigeria: Nwando Achebe--The Woman and Her Works". All Africa. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  6. ^ Offiong, Vanessa. "Nigeria: Nwando Achebe--The Woman and Her Works". AllAfrica. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Meet the Winner of the 2013 Aidoo-Snyder Prize--Dr. Nwando Achebe". African Studies Association. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  8. ^ Okpewho, Isidore (2005). "Book Blurb, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900–1960". Heinemann Books.
  9. ^ Obioma, Nnaemeka. "Book Blub, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900–1960".
  10. ^ African Studies Association. "Meet the Winner of the 2013 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize--Dr. Nwando Achebe". Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  11. ^ Ukaegbu, Victor (Winter 2012–2013). "A Review of Nwando Achebe's Female King of Colonial Nigeria". Leeds African Studies Bulletin. 74: 103–105.
  12. ^ "History Textbook--West African Senior School Certificated Examination".
  13. ^ "Nwando Achebe | College of Social Science | Michigan State University". socialscience.msu.edu. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  14. ^ "The Washington Post". Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  15. ^ ""The Politics of Knowledge Production—A Reflective Journey and Dance about the Epistemology and Practice of African Gender History"". www.international.ucla.edu. Retrieved 27 May 2020.