People

Portrait (head shot photo)
Barbara M. Cooper
Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., Boston University; B.A., St. John’s College (Annapolis)
Rutgers : At Rutgers Since 2001
Specialty: History of West Africa; History of Religion; Women's and Gender History; History of Health
Email: bacooper@history.rutgers.edu
Office: 003 Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8525
Research Interests: Professor Cooper is interested in intersections between culture and political economy, focusing upon the intertwined histories of gender, law, health, religion, agriculture and family life.

Mailing address:
Department of History
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
16 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1108

Biographical Notes

Barbara Cooper’s undergraduate and graduate training ranges from the “great books” of the Western tradition to the languages and cultures of Africa, with detours into experiential learning and art school. Her doctoral work at the African Studies Center of Boston University exposed her to the Hausa language, the political economy of agriculture, and the anthropology of gender. Professor Cooper’s research draws upon both oral and archival sources to reconstruct the social and cultural history of West Africa. Her focus is on the former French colonies of the Sahel, particularly Niger, where she has conducted fieldwork for thirty years. She is the author of three books and numerous articles and chapters on the history of Niger and the Sahel.

COURSES REGULARLY TAUGHT

Undergraduate

  • 01:506:114 World Civilizations: Europe, Africa, and America
  • 01:506:226 Contemporary Challenges in International Health
  • 01:506:401 History Seminar: Exploring the History of Emotions
  • 01:508:220 Ancient Africa
  • 01:508:222 Modern Africa
  • 01:508:224 Women and Gender in African History
  • 01:508:226 War and Violence in Africa
  • 01:508:326 Islam in African History
  • 01:508:328 History of Health and Healing in Africa

Graduate

  • 16:510:503 Africa in World History
  • 16:510:539 Colloquium in Women, Gender and Sexuality
  • 16:510:560 Readings in Women, Gender and Sexuality

PUBLICATIONS

  • Countless Blessings: A History of Childbirth and Reproduction in the Sahel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019)
  • Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006)
  • Marriage in Maradi: Gender and Culture in a Hausa Society in Niger, 1900-1989 (Portsmouth: Heinemann Social History of Africa Series, 1997)
  • Co-edited with Catherine Baroin, La Honte au Sahel (Paris: Sépia, 2018).
  • Co-edited with Gary Corwin, Tibebe Eshete, Musa Gaiya, Tim Geysbeek and Shobana Shankar, Transforming Africa’s Religious Landscapes: The Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), Past and Present Trenton: Africa World Press, 2018.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Traveling Companions: The Burial of the Placenta in Niger.” African Studies Review, vol. 62, 2, 2019, 127–148.
  • “Maternal Health in Niger and the Evangelical Imperative : the Life of a Missionary Nurse in the Post-war Era,” in Transforming Africa’s Religious Landscapes: The Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), Past and Present edited by Barbara Cooper, Gary Corwin, Tibebe Eshete, Musa Gaiya, Tim Geysbeek and Shobana Shankar, Trenton: Africa World Press, 2018, 287-312.
  • “The Gender of Malnutrition in French West Africa: Military Medicine, Intra-Colonial Marginality and Ethnos Theory in the Making of Malnutrition in Niger,” in Health and Difference: Rendering Human Variation in Colonial Engagements edited by Alexandra Widmer and Veronika Lipphardt, Oxford: Berghan Books, 2016, 149-77.
  • “Representing Adolescent Sexuality in the Sahel,” in Writing through the Visual and Virtual: Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean edited by Renée Larrier and Ousseina Alidou, London: Lexington Books, 2015, 113-122.
  • “American Missions in Wartime French West Africa : Travails of the Sudan Interior Mission in Niger,” in Africa and World War II, Carolyn Brown, Judith Byfield, Timothy Parsons and Ahmad Sikainga (eds.). Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2015, 359-382.
  • “De quoi la crise démographique au Sahel est-elle le nom?,” Politique Africaine, 130, 2013, 69-88.
  • “The Implications of Reproductive Politics for Religious Competition in Niger,” in Christianity and Public Culture in Africa, Harri Englund (ed.). Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011. 89-108.
  • “Engendering a Hausa Vernacular Christian Practice,” in Being and Becoming Hausa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Anne Haour and Benedetta Rossi (eds.). Leiden: Brill, 2010. 257-77.
  • “Secular States, Muslim Law, and Islamic Religious Culture: Gender Implications of Legal Struggles in Hybrid Legal Systems in Contemporary West Africa,” in Droits et Culture, 59 (1) 2010, special issue edited by Corinne Fortier on law reform in the Muslim world, 97-120.
  • “Injudicious Intrusions: Chiefly Authority and Islamic Judicial Practice in Maradi, Niger,” in Muslim Family Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, Richard Roberts and Shamil Jeppie and Ebrahim Moosa (eds.). Amsterdam University Press, 2010, 183-218.
  • “Chronic Malnutrition and the Trope of the Bad Mother” in in A Not-So Natural Disaster: Niger ’05, Xavier Crombé and Jean-Hervé Jézéquel (eds.), London: Hurst & Co., 2009, 147-68.
  • “Oral Sources and the Challenge of African History,” in Writing African History, John Philips (ed.), University of Rochester Press, 2005, 191-215.
  • “Anatomy of a Riot: the Social Imaginary, Single Women and Religious Violence in Niger,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 37 (2-3), 2003: 467-512.
  • “The Strength in the Song: Muslim Personhood, Audible Capital and Hausa Women’s Performance of the Hajj,” Social Text, (60) 1999: 87-109.

Co-Authored Articles

  • Barbara Cooper, Gary Corwin, Tibebe Eshete, Musa Gaiya, Tim Geysbeek and Shobana Shankar, “Introduction,” in Transforming Africa’s Religious Landscapes: The Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), Past and Present edited by Barbara Cooper, Gary Corwin, Tibebe Eshete, Musa Gaiya, Tim Geysbeek and Shobana Shankar, Trenton: Africa World Press, 2018, 287-312.
  • Catherine Baroin and Barbara Cooper, “La honte, introduction au dossier,” in La Honte au Sahel edited by Catherine Baroin and Barbara Cooper, Paris: Sépia, 2018, 9-20.
  • Julie Livingston, Keith Wailoo, and Barbara M. Cooper, “Vaccination as Governance: HPV Skepticism in the United States and Africa, and the North-South Divide” in Keith Wailoo, Julie Livingston, Steven Epstein, and Robert Aronowitz, Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine’s Simple Solutions (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) 231-53

AWARDS

  • Melville J. Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association for the best book published in 2006 (Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel)
  • Finalist for the Melvin J. Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association for the best book published in 1997 (Marriage in Maradi: Gender and Culture in a Hausa Society in Niger, 1900-1989)
  • Resident Fellow Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Paris, France, Spring 2015.
  • Resident Fellow, IAU College, Aix-en-Provence, France, Spring 2014.
  • Enseignant invité, Université de Paris 8, May 2013.
  • Mellon New Directions Fellowship 2008-2010 for training in demography and public health for future research on history of debates about reproduction in the Sahel.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 1998.
  • Bernadotte E. Schmitt Research Grant, American Historical Association, 1996.
  • U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant, 1988-89.
  • U.S. Department of Education Javits Fellow, 1986-1988.
  • Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow, 1983-1984.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  • American Historical Association
  • African Studies Association
  • West Africa Research Association
  • Société des africanistes