• Carolyn Brown
  • Carolyn Brown
  • Professor of History
  • Degree: Ph.D., 1985 Department of History, Columbia University
  • Additional Degree(s):
    • M. Phil., 1983 Department of History, Columbia University
    • M.I.A., 1969 School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
    • B.A., 1966 Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio
  • Specialty: Twentieth-Century West Africa: Labor History
  • Click for Website
  • Office: 110 Van Dyck Hall
  • Phone: 848-932-8569


My primary research interests are in West African labor and social history with current emphasis on masculinity, nationalism, African involvement in World War II and slavery in Southeastern Nigeria.  I have several book projects. In 2015 Cambridge University Press published a co-edited book, Africa and World War II, which I edited with Judith Byfield (Cornell), Timothy Parsons (Washington U.) and Ahmad Sikainga (Ohio U.) This evolved from a series of conferences at Rutgers (2008) and Cornell University (2009) and three panels at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association.  The book is a unique collection of articles by leading Africanist scholars documenting the rarely acknowledged role played by African countries and soldiers in the war. It is designed to address the omission of Africa from the major narratives of World War II and is appropriate for advanced undergraduates and graduate students of Global, African and World War II history. The summer of 2016 Dr. Byfield and I were invited to launch the book at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and the Free State University, Bloemfontein, South Africa. A second project, a social history of the nationalist movement in a particularly militant town, Enugu, Nigeria ('Red' Enugu is a series of essays that tell the history of the city through the experiences of several social groups who give Enugu its cultural and politically contested nature. Tentatively entitled, “Cowboys’, Letter Writers and Dancing Women: Identity and Nationalist Struggle in a West African City: Enugu, Nigeria 1914-1955”, it traces how race, class and gender identities shape and are shaped by the colonial city and how these identities influence the 'popular classes' response to nationalist discourse. One focus is to document how African men experiment with forms of masculinity in their position as clerical workers,  young unmarried men in a youth gang called the 'Cowboys', African business men, urban coal miners and professional letter writers (called 'bush lawyers').  I am also interested in the slave trade in southeastern Nigeria, a very small area but which was the major source area of slaves in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The project, 'Memories of Sorrow and Loss, - the Slave Trade and Southeastern Nigeria’, is an oral history of how the trade is remembered by communities in southeastern Nigeria. The first phase produced one volume, coedited with Paul Lovejoy, Repercussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade: The Interior of the Bight of Biafra and the African Diaspora (Africa World Press, 2011) which included papers from a major slavery conference in Nike Lake Nigeria, sponsored by Rutgers, the Ford Foundation Harriet Tubman Center for Research on Africa and its Diasporas York University, Canada, the African Research Center, Enugu and the Schomburg Center of NYPL.

A final project links African and African-American history. ‘Global Timbuktu: Meanings and Narratives of Resistance in Africa and the Americas’ is a multi-faced project focused on two antebellum villages named after the Malian city of Islamic learning, Timbuktu. One, Timbuctoo, in Westampton Township, New Jersey, was founded in 1825 as a free black community that was very involved in the Underground Railroad. The other Timbuctoo, near North Elba, New York, was established by an abolitionist to give free Black men land to fulfill the financial requirement for the vote in New York State. It also became important as the site where John Brown, the militant abolitionist, settled, taught farming and is buried. The Center for African Studies, with support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the Dean’s Office of Arts and Sciences Rutgers University, and the Amistad Project of the NJ Board of Education, has held a teacher’s workshop, and will hold an international conference of scholars from Mali, South Africa and the U. S. on the convergence of these various settlements. Additionally we will organize two SKYPE conversations between NJ students and students in Timbuktu, Mali. It concludes with a site visit and community presentation at the site of Westampton Township.


  • Undergraduate Courses: Ancient Africa; West Africa; Southern Africa; African Labor History; Imperialism; World War II and Africa, Nationalism in Africa,
  • Undergraduate Historical Studies: African Urban History; Violence in Africa;
  • Undergraduate Seminars: African Urban Social History; Africa in World War II; Gender, Race and Class in African History; African Nationalism
  • Graduate Courses: Colloquium in African Labor History; Graduate Colloquium in African History; Protest and Consciousness: African Labor History in Comparative Perspective



  • "Locals and Migrants in the Coal Mining Town of Enugu (Nigeria): Worker Protest and Urban Identity, 1914-1929", International Review of Social History, Volume 60, Special Issue S1 (Migration and Ethnicity in Coalfield History: Global Perspectives) December 2015, 63-94.
  • Co-Editor with Judith Byfield, Ahmad Sikainga and Timothy Parsons, Africa and World War II, Cambridge University Press, April 2015.
  • “Senior Editors’ Note, “ (with Jennifer Klein and Peter Winn)  40th Anniversary Issue International Labor and Working Class History 82 (Fall 2012)
  • “Senior Editors’ Note, “ (with Jennifer Klein and Peter Winn)  Labor and Global Commodities  International Labor and Working Class History 81 ( Spring 2012)
  • “Senior Editors’ Note, “ (with Jennifer Klein and Peter Winn) Labor and the Military,  International Labor and Working Class History 80 (Fall 2011)
  • “Senior Editors’ Note, “ (with Jennifer Klein and Peter Winn) Labor Migration in the Middle East’, International Labor and Working Class History, 79 (Spring 2011)
  • “ Contestation and Identity Transformation under Colonialism: Emancipation Struggles in South Nkanu, 1920-1935”, C. Brown and P. Lovejoy, (eds) Repercussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade: The Interior of the Bight of Biafra and the African Diaspora, Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 2011
  • Repercussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade: The Interior of the Bight of Biafra and the African Diaspora, C. Brown and P. Lovejoy, eds.,  African World Press (2011)
  • “Guest Editor’s Introduction,” (with Marcel van der Linden), Shifting Boundaries Between Free and Unfree Labor, International Labor and Working Class History, No. l. 78 Fall 2010.  
  • “The Iva Valley Shooting at Enugu Colliery, Nigeria: African Workers’ Aspirations and the Failure of Colonial Labor Reform”, Toyin Falola and Salah Hassan, eds., Power and Nationalism in Modern Africa: Essays in Honor of Don Ohadike, Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2008 
  • “Race and the Construction of Working-Class Masculinity in the Nigerian Coal Industry: The Initial Phase, 1914-1930”, International Labor and Working Class History, Vol 69, No. 1 (March 2006) 35-56. 
  • “The Iva Valley Mining Community: Nigerian Coal Miners, Protest and Gender, 1914-1949”. S. Berger and A. Croll, (eds.), Towards a Comparative of Coal Mining Societies. London: Ashgate Press (2004)
  • “A ‘Man’ in the Village is a ‘Boy’ in the Workplace: Colonial Racism, Worker Militance and Igbo Notions of Masculinity in the Nigerian Coal Industry, 1930-1945”, L. Lindsay and S. Miescher (eds.), Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa. Portsmouth, N.H. Heinemann (2003)
  • “‘Memories of Pain and Sorrow’: The Oral History Project on Memory and the Slave Trade in Southeastern Nigeria”, S. Diouf, ‘Fighting Back’: African Strategies Against the Slave Trade. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. (2003)
  • “We Are All Slaves”: African Miners, Culture, and Resistance at the Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria, 1914-1950. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann (2003)
  • “Becoming ‘Men’, Becoming ‘Workers’: Race, Gender and Workplace Struggle in the Nigerian Coal Industry, 1937-49”, P. Alexander and R. Halpern, (eds.) Racializing Class, Classifying Race: Labour and Difference in Britain, the USA and Africa, London: MacMillan Press, 2000
  • “Testing the Boundaries of Marginality: Twentieth-Century Slavery and Emancipation Struggles in Nkanu, Northern Igboland 1920-29,” Journal of African History (1996) 37.
  • “Struggles Over the Labor Process: Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria, during World War II,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (1996) 15
  • “The Dialectics of Colonial Labour Control: Class Struggles in the Nigerian Coal Industry, 1914-1949,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, vol. 33 1-2, (1988) 32-59.
  • This article was reprinted in, Third World Workers:Comparative International Labour Studies, ed. by P.C.W. Gutkind (E.J.Brill Press, Leiden, 1988), 32-59.
  • “Apartheid and Trilaterism: Partners in Southern Africa,” in Holly Sklar, ed., The Trilateral Commission: Elite Planning for World Management. South End Press, 1980.


  • 2010-  2012   Schomburg – Associate Fellow in Residence
  • 2009-10 Schomburg-NEH Scholars-in-Residence Grant. 
  • 2008    Fulbright Distinguished Chair’s Grant, York University, Canada
  • 2006    Rockefeller Resident Fellowship, Humanities Program, Northwestern  U.
  • 2003 Book of the Year Prize, International Labor History Association for We Are All Slaves: African Miners, Culture, and Resistance at the Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria, 1914-1950. Heinemann (2003)
  • 1998-99, Fellow, American Philosophical Society [fieldwork in Nigeria]
  • 1998-99, National Endowment of the Humanities Fellow, Schomburg Center, N.Y. Public Library
  • 1989-91, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, Univ. of California, Berkeley,
  • 1986-87, Postdoctoral Fellow, Joint Committee on Africa, American Council of Learned Societies and Social Science Research Council. Fieldwork in Nigeria and England


  • Senior Editor, International Labor and Working Class History, Cambridge 2010-
  • European Social Science History Association, Network co-chair ‘Labor’, 2004-2006
  • Advisory Board, Nigerian Hinterland Project/Harriet Tubman Center for the Black Diaspora, York University, Canada. 2001-
  • Editorial Board, African Series, Cambridge University Press, 2000-
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of African History, 2001-2004
  • African Studies Association. Board of Directors. Policy Planning and Decision Making Body for Association. Board Member, 1993-1996.