Assistant Professor of History
King Juan Carlos Center
Field of Study:
I am a historian of West Africa, with an interest in the politics of natural resource extraction and scientific research in Senegal, Mali, and Guinea. My book project explores the pre-colonial and colonial roots of ongoing debates over the rights of agrarian communities to mine gold. Since colonialism, I argue, state and private geologists have appropriated the gold discoveries of African miners, while simultaneously degrading African extractive practices as primitive, wasteful, and criminal. Historians have established that capitalism profits from co-opting nature. I reveal that the appropriation of African mineral knowledge is also central to mining capitalism.
Robyn d’Avignon is assistant professor of African History at NYU. She studies natural resource extraction, the law, and scientific research in Francophone West Africa. She earned her doctorate in the Program in History and Anthropology at University of Michigan and received grants from the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Her courses at NYU focus on the history of Africa, technology and the environment, and humanitarianism.