Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Organization Logo Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

Faculty Fellow

Emily Lynn Osborn

Associate Professor of African History, African Studies, and the College; Affiliated Faculty, Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies; Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture University of Chicago


Osborn is a historian of Africa, with a particular interest in precolonial and colonial West Africa. She is currently the Faculty Director of the Senegal study abroad program, and she has also served as co-director of the Committee on African Studies, chair of the College’s British fellowships committee, and on the Faculty Boards of the Center for International Social Science Research and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. She is also an editor of The Journal of African History.

Her first book, Our New Husbands Are Here: Households, Gender, and Politics in a West African State from the Slave Trade to Colonial Rule, uses gender analysis to investigate the intertwined history of household making and statecraft in Kankan, Upper Guinée (located in Guinea). Other topics on which Osborn has published include the history of technology transfer and diffusion in West Africa; the role of intermediaries in colonial rule, the Anthropocene in Africa; the history and cultural significance of the color red in the Atlantic world; and the relationship in West Africa of containers and mobility. She has also researched the effort by the United States government in the 1950s and 1960s to export the model of the land grant university to Africa.

For more details on her research and publications, please visit her profile page at the University of Chicago.

Featured Project

Climate Change: Disciplinary Challenges to the Humanities and the Social Sciences

2015 – 2016


Deep History

Deep History

This project supported the Visiting Fellowship of Daniel Lord Smail, whose innovative research on the material culture of the later Middle Ages operates at the intersection of history, anthropology, archaeology, and evolutionary biology.

Professor Dan Smail (Department of History, Harvard University) took up residence as a Neubauer Visiting Fellow in the Fall Quarter of 2015. Smail, who is a medievalist by training, has played a central role in pioneering a new scholarly approach known as Deep History, which operates at the...

Planetary History: Growth in the Anthropocene

Planetary History: Growth in the Anthropocene

This project explored the history of planetary change through close analysis of the biophysical dimension of economic development and the history of earth system science.

One of the most striking and often remarked upon effects of climate change is its power to unsettle our basic understanding of the modern world. Our planet is changing into a strange and unstable new environment, in a process seemingly outside technological control. The fossil fuels that once...

Project Topics: