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The Michigan State University African Studies Center has 170 faculty with experience on Africa, probably the largest in the nation, including the largest faculties in social science (40) and in economics and agricultural economics (16). The Center features many other scholars in African languages, the arts and humanities, education, agricultural and natural sciences, health and medicine and other fields. The faculty members are listed alphabetically by college and departmental affiliation, noting geographical areas of Africa experience, and teaching and research interests.


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Michael D. Gottfried Department: MSU Museum
Email: gottfrie(at)

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Biography: Michael Gottfried has been at MSU since 1997, and is currently an Associate Professor of Geological Sciences and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the MSU Museum. Mike has also served as Director of MSU's Center for Integrative Studies in General Science since 2006. His research focuses on marine fish evolution in high-latitude southern hemisphere settings, the paleobiology of the giant fossil 'megatoothed' sharks, and the evolution and biogeographical relationships of vertebrate faunas from the ancient southern supercontinent of Gondwana. Mike has conducted field expeditions in Madagascar, Tanzania, South Africa, and New Zealand, and at many sites in the USA, in connection with his research. His work on the evolution of giant fossil sharks has led to involvement in several documentary films, including segments on the Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week' programming, and most recently as part of the 'Prehistoric Predators' series on National Geographic Television.

Kenneth Harrow Department: English
Countries/Research: Senegal; Cameroon; Algeria; Rwanda; Burundi; Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Email: harrow(at)

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Biography: Kenneth Harrow is Distinguished Professor of English at Michigan State University. He received a B.S. from M.I.T., a Masters in English from NYU and a Ph D in Comparative Literature also from NYU. His work focuses on African cinema and literature, Diaspora and Postcolonial Studies. He is the author of Thresholds of Change in African Literature (Heinemann, 1994), Less Than One and Double: A Feminist Reading of African Womens Writing (Heinemann, 2002), and Postcolonial African Cinema: From Political Engagement to Postmodernism (Indiana U P, 2007). His latest work, Trash! A Study of African Cinema Viewed from Below, was be published by Indiana University Press in 2013. He has edited numerous collections on such topics as Islam and African literature (including Faces of Islam in African Literature,1991), African cinema (including African Cinema: Postcolonial and Feminist Readings, 1999), and women in African literature and cinema. He has published more than 50 articles and a dozen chapters. He has organized numerous conferences dealing with African literature and cinema. He served as President of the African Literature Association, and was honored with their first Distinguished Member Award. He has also been honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award at Michigan State University. In 2011 he was awarded the Distinguished Africanist Award at the Toyina Falola Annual Conference, University of Texas.

Salah Hassan Department: English
Countries/Research: Morocco; Mali
Email: hassans3(at)

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Biography: In addition to his position in English, Salah Hassan is core faculty in the Muslim Studies Program and in Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities at MSU. His areas of research and teaching include postcolonial literature and theory, mid-20th century anticolonial intellectual movements, literatures of empire, and Arab and Muslim North American studies. His research projects have recently been oriented around the representation of Arabs and Muslims in the media and also projects of Arab and Muslim self-representation. He is the founder of the Muslim Subjects website and blog (, and coordinator of the following projects on that site: "Migrations of Islam," "American Halal," and "Journal/Islam." Muslim Subjects was established with grant that he received from the Social Science Research Council in 2011. He co-curated RASHID & ROSETTA, an international online art exhibit on the theme of the Rosetta Stone, and is co-editor of a special issue of MELUS (Winter 2006) on Arab American literature. He co-produced the short documentary film, "Death of an Imam" and is currently producing a series of documentary films on Muslims in the US.

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.

Robert Hitchcock Department: Geography
Countries/Research: Botswana; Lesotho; Namibia; Zimbabwe; Uganda; Gabon; Swaziland; Somalia; Kenya; Egypt.
Email: hitchc16(at)

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Biography: Robert K. Hitchcock is Professor of Geography and an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, USA where he has been since August, 2006. Formerly he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University (2006-2009) and before that was Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he spent 23 years. At Michigan State University, Hitchcock is a core faculty member in the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations (CGCEO), African Studies, the Center for Advanced Studies in International Development (CASID), the Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen), the American Indian Studies Program, Peace and Justice Studies, and is currently involved a program focusing on the well-being indigenous, minority, and refugee children in collaboration with the Departments of Social Work and Family and Child Ecology in the College of Social Science. Over the past several decades, Hitchcock has served as a cultural anthropologist, archaeologist, and in international development consultant on issues ranging from indigenous peoples rights and land use planning to social impact analysis and community-based natural resource management, particularly in Africa and North America, with brief work in Central and South America. Research Interests: His focal areas of concern are human ecology, international socioeconomic development, resettlement, human rights of indigenous peoples, women, refugees, and minorities, and conflict resolution. Some of his work focuses on hunters and gatherers and deals with socioeconomic change among societies that engage in foraging for part of their livelihoods.

Jennifer Hodbod Department: Community Sustainability
Countries/Research: Ethiopia
Email: jhodbod(at)

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Biography: Jennifer Hodbod is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability, where she researches and teaches the topic of resilient food systems – environmentally and economically sustainable food systems that can equitably feed a growing global population whilst adapting to security threats such as climate change, changing preferences and economic shocks. To integrate these components, she utilizes environmental social science and political ecology methods within a novel and integrative research design for investigating human-environment interactions – resilience assessment. Taking this perspective allows her to investigate impacts across multiple scales, to highlight all impacts – intended or not – for all actors. Jennifer practices applied research in order to test and disseminate potential solutions in food systems. Her collaborators include members of key research and engagement organizations, academics from multiple disciplines and universities, local and national governments, NGOs, and smallholder and commercial producers. Jennifer has a PhD in Environmental Social Science from the University of East Anglia (UK), within the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and conducted postdoctoral research at Arizona State University, within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, part of the Global Institute of Sustainability. Her PhD research examined the impacts of biofuel expansion on social-ecological systems in Ethiopia, investigating the consequences at different scales on food security, livelihoods, the environment, and energy security using interdisciplinary methods. Her postdoctoral research investigated varied solutions from urban agriculture to Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing, studying their impact on social-ecological system resilience and scalability.

Kay Holekamp Department: Department Integrative Biology
Countries/Research: Kenya
Email: holekamp(at)

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Biography: Kay Holekamp's research focuses on mammalian behavioral development and its physiological substrates. She and her students are currently investigating how social, ecological, and endocrine variables interact during an individual's early development to influence its subsequent behavior and its reproductive success as an adult.

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.