Barbara Cooper,Professor and Chair
Ph.D, Boston University
RESEARCH INTERESTS: West Africa, Gender, Religion and Trans-regional Interaction
Professor Cooper is interested in the intersections between culture and political economy, focusing upon gender, religion, and family life. Drawing upon archival sources as well as oral interviews in the Hausa speaking region of Niger in the west African Sahel, her publications have addressed female labor and slavery, gift exchange as social discourse, oral genres and the oral re-performance of pilgrimage, movement and the construction of gender, and the negotiation of a shifting political economy through the re-definition of marriage. She recently completed a prize winning book on the history of a minority Evangelical Protestant community in majority Muslim Niger that engages with the history of U.S. interventions in Africa, the problem of religious violence, the relationships between religion, secularism, and modernity, and the construction of gender in Christianity and Islam. Her current research explores the history of discourses of motherhood and of debates about fertility in the francophone Sahel.