Nancy Rose Hunt
Center for African Studies
University of Florida
427 Grinter Hall, PO Box 115560
Gainesville, FL 32611
Nancy Rose Hunt (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992; B.A., University of Chicago, 1980) is Professor of History & African Studies at the University of Florida. Her work focuses on the history and anthropology of medicine in Africa (including matters of reproduction, childhood, humanitarianism, and madness), with increasing attention to subaltern and health politics on a global scale. A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo (Duke, 2016) considers imperial violence in colonial Congo and its consequences for moods, nervous policing, reproduction, therapeutic insurgencies, a penal colony, and subaltern daydreaming and futures. Her current projects consider madness and comparative imperial approaches to psychiatry in Africa; and African children’s drawings, their history, collectors, and uses. Her early scholarship pursued medical, gender, technical, and subaltern themes: childbearing, abortion, breastfeeding as well as surgical, transport, writing, and visual technologies, like cycling, letter-writing, and sequential art or comic production (from Tintin to Papa Mfumu’eto le Premier). Her first book, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Work, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke, 1999), is an ethnographic history; it received the Herskovits Book Prize. Her articles have appeared in many journals, such as Past & Present, The Lancet, History Workshop Journal, Africa, Journal of African History, Somatosphere, and Cultural Anthropology. She has been awarded fellowships from the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, EURIAS, Paris’ Institute of Advanced Study, the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-IIE, Fulbright-Hays, the Ford Foundation, NSF, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies. Her archival research has taken her to Brussels, Tervuren, Antwerp, Rome, Aix, London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Washington DC, and Nashville, as well as many African locations. She has spent sustained periods doing fieldwork in and near Bujumbura, Burundi; Accra, Ghana; and in three cities of Congo-Zaire: Kisangani, Mbandaka, and Kinshasa.
While co-editor of Gender & History for four years, Nancy Hunt’s vision and collaborations transformed this leading journal into a decidedly more global place. She first became a historian while working as an archivist in distinguished institutions in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois (1978-86) and recasting acquisition priorities in a university archive she directed towards the 1960s. These sensibilities and skills—attentiveness to provenance, layers, immediacy, the ordinary—became useful in many creative projects since, whether in research and teaching in Africa, digital history, conserving African street comics, or producing two ethnographic films in Ghana. For three years, Hunt directed the “Women’s Health in the City of Accra Project,” a transnational, qualitative health research training seminar, which encouraged all Ghanaian and American interdisciplinary participants to collaborate, investigate, and document, while also writing ethnographic stories. While professor in History and also Obstetrics/Gynecology for many years at the University of Michigan, she taught a wide range of courses to diverse constituencies: “Health and Illness in African Worlds” and “Imagining the Congo” to undergraduates; “Narrative & Medical Knowledge” and “Global Women’s Health” to medical students; and “Comparative Gender Historiography” and “Theory for Historians” to doctoral students in history & anthropology.
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