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July 04, 2006


For days now I have been struggling to write a 250-word academic bio. Actually, that is not quite true. It would be more accurate to say that for days I have been avoiding writing this bio. But it is due Friday, and can't be put off any longer. Reading other people's 250-word bios has really intimidated me, convincing me that my life will never measure up to theirs. This morning I complained to my friend Diana that my life has been too boring to write a 250-word bio, and she reassured me that I was wrong, reminding me of all of the traveling I have done in grad school. Inspired by her confidence in my life, I sat down and wrote the thing:

As a Ph.D. student in the History Department at the University of Michigan, my research focuses on twentieth-century British imperialism and colonialism in Africa, and on the ways in which empire reflected back onto everyday lives in metropolitan Britain. I am particularly interested in examining British and African women’s experience of empire through quotidian practices involving food: marketing, cooking, eating, feeding, and nutrition. I became curious about the lived experience of empire as an undergraduate at Pomona College, during a semester abroad at Cambridge University, and wrote my senior thesis on the link between the emigration of British women to South Africa at the turn of the twentieth century and the simultaneous emergence of maternal welfare programs in Great Britain. At the University of Michigan I have had a chance to study African history in addition to British history, and have traveled to Ghana and Kenya, as well as to London, for research and conferences. I analyze imperialism and colonialism as a way to bridge the traditional historiographical divide between Africa and Europe, and food has provided a particularly useful lens through which to examine the transcontinental circulation of people, objects, and ideas, with specific reference to race, gender, and modes of knowing and governing human bodies and cultural practices. I hope that my dissertation will not only contribute to British and African historiographies, but also challenge our understanding of eating as natural by foregrounding the cultural and political elements of food and human nutrition.

Posted by eklanche at July 4, 2006 11:06 AM


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