Cooper, Barbara

Professorcrop Cooper Barbara ac13c 7754a

Department of History


Tel: 848-932-8343

Office: 113 Van Dyck Hall



Ph.D., Boston University

B.A., St. John’s College (Annapolis)

Research Interests

Professor Cooper is interested in intersections between culture and political economy, focusing upon gender, religion, and family life.

Biographical Notes

Drawing upon archival sources as well as oral interviews in the Hausa speaking region of Niger in the Eest African Sahel, Professor Cooper's publications have addressed female labor and slavery, gift exchange as social discourse, oral genres and the oral re-performance of pilgrimage, movement and the construction of gender, and the negotiation of a shifting political economy through the re-definition of marriage. She recently completed a prize winning book on the history of a minority Evangelical Protestant community in majority Muslim Niger that engages with the history of U.S. interventions in Africa, the problem of religious violence, the relationships between religion, secularism, and modernity, and the construction of gender in Christianity and Islam. Her current research explores the history of discourses of motherhood and of debates about fertility in the francophone Sahel. She serves as co-editor of the Journal of African History.

Awards, Fellowships, and Grants

  • Melville J. Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association for the best book published in 2006 (Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel)
  • Finalist for the African Studies Association 1998 Herskovits Award for the best book published in 1997 in African Studies for Marriage in Maradi: Gender and Culture in a Hausa Society in Niger, 1900-1989. Portsmouth: Heinemann (Social History of Africa Series), 1997.
  • Nominated by the Journal of African History for the Berkshire Conference on Women annual article prize for “Women’s worth and wedding gift exchange in Maradi, Niger, 1907-1989.”

Selected Publications

  • Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel. (Indiana University Press, 2006)
  • Marriage in Maradi: Gender and Culture in a Hausa Society in Niger, 1900-1989. Portsmouth: Heinemann (Social History of Africa Series, 1997)
  • “Chronic nutritional crisis and the trope of the bad mother,” in Jean-Herve Jezequel and Xavier Crombe eds., A Not-So Natural Disaster: Niger 2005 (Columbia University Press 2009)
  • "La rhétorique de la ‘mauvaise mère’," in /Niger 2005 Une catastrophe si naturelle/, Xavier Crombé and Jean-Hervé Jézéquel (eds.), Karthala, 2007, 199-226.
  • “The Strength in the Song: Muslim Personhood, Audible Capital and Hausa Women’s Performance of the Hajj,” in Gendered Modernities: Ethnographic Perspectives, edited by Dorothy Hodgson, Palgrave, 2001, 79-104.
  • “Le genre sexuel, le mouvement et l’histoire: transformations sociales et spatiales au XXè siècle à Maradi au Niger,” translated by Denise Ganderton and reprinted in Géographies Anglo-Saxonnes: Tendances contemporaines, edited by Jean-Francois Staszak et al, Belin, 2001, 80-94.

Professional Affiliations

  • AHA
  • African Studies Association
  • West Africa Research Association

Courses Offered


  • 01:508:220 Ancient Africa
  • 01:508:222 Modern Africa
  • 01:508:224 Women and Gender in African History
  • 01:508:326 Islam in African History
  • 01:508:429 Research in African Historical Studies


  • 16:510:539 Colloquium in Women's & Gender History
  • 16:510:625 Colloquium in African History