Email: macgonag (at symbol) ku.edu
Associate Professor of African History (Ph.D. Michigan State, 2002; M.A. Michigan State, 1996; B.A. Trinity College, Hartford, CT, 1990)
Prof. MacGonagle's research focuses on processes of identity formation in African and Diasporan settings. Her first book, Crafting Identity in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, examined four centuries of history from 1500-1900 in the Ndau region of southeastern Africa to challenge popular notions about tribalism. In the book she pushes the study of identity formation back several hundred years to argue that the Ndau were aware of their shared identity long before the arrival of European colonialism. Rochester University Press published the book in 2007 in their series on African History and the Diaspora. An earlier article, “Mightier than the Sword: the Portuguese Pen in Ndau History,” appeared in History in Africa in 2001 and discussed the rich material that Portuguese observers recorded about Ndau speakers in precolonial documents. A second article, “Living with a Tyrant: Ndau Memories and Identities in the Shadow of Ngungunyana,” was published in the International Journal of African Historical Studies in 2008.
In her current research on the Ndau-speaking region of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, Prof. MacGonagle investigates recent meanings of tribalism among the Ndau living across two national borders in the twentieth century. She asks how a sense of being Ndau continues to exist into the present, despite different colonial histories, postcolonial trajectories, and official languages in Zimbabwe (English) and Mozambique (Portuguese). The book project, Between Borders in Southeast Africa, promises to reveal complex realities about identity formation by crossing historical, geographical, and theoretical boundaries to examine links of nation, culture, and ethnicity.
As part of her ongoing research agenda to consider changes in ethnic, national, and Diasporan identities over time, Prof. MacGonagle is also engaged in analyzing intersections between history and memory across the African continent. She is examining several sites of memory steeped in history that UNESCO recognizes as World Heritage Sites for their outstanding cultural importance to humanity. They include: Ghana’s coastal slave forts from the era of the transatlantic slave trade; Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was jailed under South Africa’s apartheid regime; the stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe built by a trading empire during the Middle Ages; and the city and slave market on Mozambique Island that served as Portugal’s trading post on the sea route to India. Her investigation examines the uses and abuses of history at these sites and questions how and why we remember--and forget--about the past. Her first publication of the project focused on the significance of Ghana’s slave forts in our collective memory since their use during the transatlantic slave trade. The essay, “From Dungeons to Dance Parties: Contested Histories of Ghana’s Slave Forts.” appeared in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies in 2006.
Prof. MacGonagle speaks Portuguese and Ndau, a dialect of Shona. In addition to fieldwork in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Ghana, she has also spent time in Africa in South Africa, Namibia, Togo, Zambia, Swaziland, Kenya, and Zanzibar. Prof. MacGonagle collaborated with Ken Lohrentz (KU Libraries) to digitize a portion of the Onitsha Market Literature collection held at KU's Spencer Research Library in 2003-2004. Selections of this popular Nigerian literature, along with a companion website, are on the Internet at http://onitsha.diglib.ku.edu/. In 2004, she received a Fulbright fellowship to teach African history at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík.
Prof. MacGonagle teaches African history at KU in the departments of History and African & African-American Studies. She has training in Comparative Black history and interests in social and cultural history and gender studies. Her course offerings include: Sexuality and Gender in African History (HIST 598/AAAS 598), Modern African History (AAAS 305/HIST 300), Introduction to African History (AAAS 105/HIST 104), the Senior Seminar in African and African-American Studies (AAAS 550) and graduate seminars in African history and comparative women’s history.
At KU, Prof. MacGonagle is an executive committee member of the Kansas African Studies Center and a member of the university-wide African Studies Council. She is also a member of the African Studies Association, Lusophone African Studies Organization (LAÇO), Association of Concerned Africa Scholars and Mid-America Alliance for African Studies.
E-Mail: macgonag (at symbol) ku.edu
Office Phone Number: (785) 864-9452
Office Location: 3626 Wescoe Hall
Mailing Address: Dept. of History,
1445 Jayhawk Blvd. , Room 3650
Lawrence , KS 66045 -7590
Fax: (785) 864-5046