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Faculty Directory

The Michigan State University African Studies Center has close to a hundred Core Faculty with experience on Africa, probably one of the largest in the nation. The Center features many scholars in social science, agricultural economics, African languages, the arts and humanities, education, health and medicine and many other fields.

The faculty members are listed alphabetically by college and departmental affiliation, noting geographical areas of Africa experience, and teaching and research interests.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the African Studies Center's Core Faculty, please fill out the Membership Request form

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Walter Hawthorne III Department: History
Countries/Research: Guinea-Bissau
Email: walterh(at)

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Biography: Walter Hawthorne III is a Professor of African History and Chair of the History Department. His areas of research specialization are Upper Guinea, the Atlantic, and Brazil. He is particularly interested in the history of slavery and the slave trade. Much of his research has focused on African agricultural practices, religious beliefs, and family structures in the Old and New Worlds. His first book, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves: Transformations along the Guinea-Bissau Coast, 1400–1900 (Heinemann: 2003), explores the impact of interactions with the Atlantic, and particularly slave trading, on small-scale, decentralized societies. His most recent book, From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade 1600-1830 (Cambridge: 2010), examines the slave trade from Upper Guinea to Amazonia Brazil.  He has published in a range of scholarly journals such as Journal of African History, Luso-Brazilian Review, Slavery and Abolition, Africa, Journal of Global History, and American Historical Review.

Marcy Hessling- O'Neil Department: Anthropological Social Science
Countries/Research: Benin
Email: hesslin2(at)

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Biography: Dr. Marcy Hessling O’Neil is assistant professor of anthropology and advisor for the Peace and Justice Studies program at Michigan State University. O’Neil has taught several of the core courses in Peace and Justice, including ANP 236 “Slacktivists, Activists, and Social Entrepreneurs.” She has conducted ethnographic research among students and their families in Benin, West Africa for nine years. Her research focuses on the social impact of higher education on the extended family, and on the role of international development on the educational system. O’Neil is a Fulbright alumna, McNair Scholar, and former President of the National Association of Student Anthropologists. She has served on various committees with the American Anthropological Association, including the Mentorship Task Force. Most recently, O’Neil was a reader for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. O’Neil earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Michigan State University.

Kay Holekamp Department: Integrated Biology
Email: holekamp(at)

José Jackson- Malete Department: Alliance for African Partnership
Countries/Research: Botswana
Email: jacks184(at)

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Biography: José Jackson-Malete is based in the African Studies Center at Michigan State University within the Alliance for African Partnerships (AAP), a new initiative established by President Simon in 2016 to develop new, innovative ways of partnering with African institutions. She is a member of the AAP management team, with responsibilities for developing international collaborations; identifying and liaising with MSU and African partner organizations for management of research, development of research teams, implementation and evaluation of capacity building, and proposal development; coordinating and strategic management of international partnerships, especially those related to research and innovation; and exploration of grant opportunities for AAP initiatives. José was previously the Director of Research and Partnerships at the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), the Deputy Director of Research at the University of Botswana and a faculty member of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica. She is a food scientist with Masters and PhD from Cornell University and Michigan State University, respectively, and has over 25 years experience in research, teaching and working in industry in Africa, the Caribbean and the USA, particularly within the Agriculture sector. She maintains an active research program that focuses on processing and adding value to indigenous fruit and vegetable products including the morama bean of Botswana and ackee fruit of Jamaica, ensuring quality and safety, contributing to food and nutrition security, while improving livelihoods for communities. José was born in St. Vincent in the Caribbean but spent the last 14 years living and working in Botswana. She has networks at higher education institutions and other organizations throughout the Caribbean and Africa.

Amy Jamison Department: Center for Gender in Global Context
Email: jamisona(at)

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Biography: Dr. Amy Jamison is an education, gender, and research specialist. She holds graduate degrees in educational policy, history, and African studies. Dr. Jamison's research focuses broadly on African higher education development, educational policy in Africa, gender issues in higher education, and gender in international development. She has been involved with several grant and research projects in a number of African countries, including Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Mali. She has worked on two USAID-funded university capacity-building projects in Malawi and Rwanda. In 2008, she spent one year on a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship conducting a qualitative study of academics' experiences with research at the University of Dar es Salaam. In addition to being the Alliance for African Partnership Coordinator, she serves as the Interim Co-Director of the MSU Center for Gender in Global Context.

Thomas Jayne Department: Ag, Food & Resource Economics
Countries/Research: Zimbabwe; Kenya; Zambia; Ghana; Ethiopia
Email: jayne(at)

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Biography: Thomas Jayne’s career has been devoted to working with African colleagues to promote effective policy responses to poverty in Africa.  Jayne is Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University.  In June, 2015 he was named MSU Foundation Professor. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute in Lusaka, Zambia, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the African Association of Agricultural Economists.  He has mentored dozens of young Africa professionals and played a major role in building MSU’s partnerships with African research institutes, serving as co-director of several grants from the Gates Foundation focusing on building sustainable research capacity in Africa. He has over 25 years of experience conducting research on agricultural productivity and markets. 

Jennifer Lee Johnson Department: Community Sustainability
Countries/Research: Uganda
Email: john8259(at)

Isaac Kalumbu Department: International Studies and Programs
Email: kalumbu(at)

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Biography: Dr. Isaac Kalumbu serves as the program manager for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at Michigan State University (MSU). As program manager, Dr. Kalumbu is responsible for the development, implementation, and management of the program at MSU. In 1997, Dr. Kalumbu joined MSU’s College of Music where he taught courses on African American, Caribbean, and African popular music. He has also led several study abroad programs to Jamaica and South Africa. Dr. Kalumbu joined the university’s International Studies and Programs in 2009, first as the assistant to the director of the African Studies Center and then as the program manager for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at MSU. Dr. Kalumbu was born and raised in Zimbabwe and completed a bachelor of arts in economic history and history, with a minor in philosophy, from the University of Zimbabwe. He went on to earn his doctorate in ethnomusicology, with a minor in African American studies, from Indiana University in 1999.

John B. Kaneene Department: Center for Comparative Epidemiology
Countries/Research: Uganda; Tanzania; Ethiopia
Email: kaneene(at)

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Biography: Dr. John B. Kaneene's research emphasis includes the epidemiology and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance; surface water contamination; bovine tuberculosis; and disease surveillance. A focus is on the epidemiology of food-borne pathogens and their relationships to the development of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal and human populations, particularly Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli. He is also actively involved in epidemiological studies and risk assessments of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife, livestock, and pets. As director and founder of the Populations Medicine Center, Kaneene addresses issues involving epidemiology, preventative medicine, and public health on a variety of diseases.

Candace Keller Department: Art and Art History
Countries/Research: Mali
Email: kellercm(at)

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Biography: Candace Keller earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of the History of Art at Indiana University, where she majored in African art and minored in African Studies and African American art. Her work is driven by a commitment to intellectual and cultural diversity. She strives to bring African cultural practices and theoretical perspectives to the conceptual awareness of global audiences, emphasizing their critical value within our increasingly interconnected, transcultural world. With a specific focus on vernacular art and photography, her work centers on the power of representation. She investigates the ways in which cultural knowledge and markers of social identity are constructed, perpetuated, and contested via visual language systems. In this vein, she considers how individuals—artists, patrons, and audiences—ascribe meaning to images as they traverse cultural contexts, cultivating a sense of social belonging, individuality, or exclusivity, to appreciate how local means of visual expression can have far reaching significance for global citizens. Her research and courses center on issues of identity, personhood, and complex agency, as well as processes of transculturation, globalization, nationalism, and postcolonialism. Since 2008, Dr. Keller has held a joint appointment as Assistant Professor of African art in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. She is core faculty in the African Studies Center, Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities, and African and African American Studies. Her research on the histories of photography in Mali, West Africa, has appeared in several publications, invited lectures, and conference presentations and has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the British Library, Fulbright-Hays, Indiana University, and Michigan State University.