Virtual Event | Rebellious Migrants: Forging Abolition, Cosmopolitan Identities, and Postcolonial Spaces in West Africa, 1840–1960

Ndubueze L. Mbah is an associate professor of history and global gender studies at the University at Buffalo. He uses oral, written, and material culture sources to show how trans-imperial systems of production and labor mobilization defined political economies of gender and sexuality in Atlantic Age West Africa. Mbah’s award-winning book, Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age (Ohio University Press, 2019), reveals how transatlantic slavery made gender the dominant marker of human difference and denominator of power in West Africa.  


In this virtual lecture, Mbah explains how abolitionism catalyzed and masked the expansion of forced labor and heteropatriarchal dependency regimes in West Africa during the 19th and 20th centuries. Mbah centers the innovations and freedom politics of African colonial subjects, who negotiated trans-colonial systems of forced labor, policing, and surveillance. Situated within studies of global Black unfreedom after the end of Atlantic slavery, Mbah clarifies the connection between abolitionism and the expansion of unfree labor and human trafficking in Africa and reveals how forgery became a major feature of modern African mobility culture. Registration is free and available to the public.