Conference Committee

The Journal of West African History (JWAH) International Launch Conference on “The State of the Field and New Directions” is hosted by JWAH Founding Editor-in-chief, Professor Nwando Achebe. Assisting with conference preparations is a committee of Michigan State University graduate students.


Nwando Achebe (pronounced: Wan-do Ah-chě-bě; [pronunciation key: ě as in pet]) is an award-winning author and professor of history at Michigan State University. She is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of West African History. Achebe received her PhD from UCLA in 2000. In 1996 and 1998, she served as a Ford Foundation and Fulbright-Hays Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She was also a 2000 Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Fellow. Her research interests involve the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, and sexuality in Nigeria. Her first book, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900-1960 was published in 2005 (Heinemann). Achebe’s second book, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe (Indiana University Press, 2011), winner of three book awards—The Aidoo-Snyder Book Award, The Barbara “Penny” Kanner Book Award, and The Gita Chaudhuri Book Award—is a full-length critical biography on the only female warrant chief and king in all of colonial Nigeria, and arguably British Africa. Achebe has received prestigious grants from Rockefeller Foundation, Wenner-Gren, Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright-Hays, Ford Foundation, World Health Organization, and NEH.



Graduate Student Committee




Tara Reyelts is a second year PhD student at Michigan State University. She studies African History along with minor fields in Comparative Black History and World History. Tara works under the guidance of Professor Nwando Achebe. The focus of Tara’s research is law and gender in late precolonial and colonial Igboland, Nigeria.









James Blackwell is a second year doctoral student in African History, advised by Dr. Nwando Achebe.  James’ work centers on Igbo labor from Igboland to British Southern Cameroon.








Shaonan Liu is a PhD candidate in African History at Michigan State University. His dissertation will focus on the history of Chinese people in Nigeria from the 1960s to the present.










Ademola Akinrinola is a graduate student in the K-12 Educational Administration program, with research interests in international education, educational leadership and policy.




Idris's pix


Abubakar Idris was born in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. He earned Bachelor’s degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Master’s degree from MSU College of Education where he is currently a PhD student. He also received Fulbright Scholarship for Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from the US Department of State.









Russell Stevenson is a doctoral student in African history at Michigan State University and recipient of the 2015 Mormon History Association Best Book Award.

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