Elizabeth MacGonagle

Elizabeth MacGonagle
  • Associate Professor
  • History
  • African and African American Studies

Contact Info

Wescoe Hall, 3626, Department of History
1445 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Elizabeth MacGonagle is an African historian in the Departments of History and African & African American Studies. She was the Director of the Kansas African Studies Center from 2013-2021.


Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2002


In her research, Dr. MacGonagle crosses historical, geographical, and theoretical boundaries to link nation, culture, and ethnicity to processes of identity formation in African and Diasporan settings. Her first book, Crafting Identity in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, examined four centuries of history from 1500–1900 in the Ndau-speaking region of southeastern Africa to challenge popular notions about tribalism. She speaks Portuguese and Shona (Ndau) and has studied Kiswahili and French. Dr. MacGonagle’s current work analyzes intersections between history and memory at sites of memory central to the heritage of slavery. She has received grants from Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Philosophical Society, among others, to support research in Africa and Europe. Dr. MacGonagle collaborated with Ken Lohrentz (KU Libraries) to digitize a portion of the Onitsha Market Literature collection held at KU's Spencer Research Library. Selections of this popular Nigerian literature, along with a companion website, are on the Internet at Onitsha Market Literature: From the Bookstalls of a Nigerian Market.

Research interests:

  • History of Africa and its diaspora, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Legacies of slavery, Memory, and Identity


Prof. MacGonagle's undergraduate course offerings include surveys of African history, a seminar on sexuality and gender in African history, a course on the liberation of southern Africa, and a seminar on memory in global perspective. At the graduate level, she teaches seminars in both African Studies and African history. She co-directed an innovative humanities lab, ColLAB, from 2017-2021 and currently leads a study abroad program in Salvador, Brazil over winter break with Prof. Luciano Tosta focused on race history, and health. She is a faculty fellow with the University Honors Program.

Teaching interests:

  • African History, African Studies, and Lusophone Studies

Selected Publications

“History and Memory in an African Context: The Case of Robben Island.” In Area Studies in the Global Age: Community, Place, Identity. Ed. Edith Clowes and Ann Shelly Jarrett Bromberg. Cornell University Press, 2016.

“In the Wake of a Midwestern Terrorism Plot.” Co-authored with Marwa Ghazali. The Huffington Post. 11 November 2016.

“Mozambique.” In Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies, Ed. Thomas Spear. Oxford University Press, 2013.

“Imagining the Past at Great Zimbabwe.” In Remembering Africa and Its Diasporas, ed. Audra Diptee and David V. Trotman. Africa World Press, 2012.

 “‘How Much for Kunta Kinte?!’: Sites of Memory and Diasporan Encounters in West Africa,”Co-authored with Kim Warren. In African Hosts and their Guests: Cultural Dynamics of Tourism, Ed. Walter van Beek & Annette Schmidt. James Currey, 2012.

Crafting Identity in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. University of Rochester Press, 2007. Paperback edition issued in 2013.


Awards & Honors

George and Eleanor Woodyard International Educator Award, International Affairs, University of Kansas, 2023

Humanities Research Fellowship, Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas, 2022 and 2015

Scholars on Site, “Coming to the Heartland: Inter-Generational Stories of Latin American and African Migration” (with Marta Caminero), Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas, 2020-2022

ING Excellence in Teaching Award, Lawrence Campus, University of Kansas, 2007


Grants & Other Funded Activity

U.S. Department of Education, Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Program, Kansas African Studies Center, 2018-2022

Research Excellence Initiative, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Univ. of Kansas. “Bridging East Africa’s Digital Health Divides.” Co-PI with Kathryn Rhine and Peter Ojiambo, 2018

Research Collaboratives, Hall Center for the Humanities - Univ. of Kansas. “Bridging East Africa’s Digital Health Divides: A ColLABorative Analysis.”  Co-PI with Kathryn Rhine and Peter Ojiambo, 2017-2020

National Endowment for the Humanities – Humanities in the Public Square Program, “Engaging Communities for the Common Good: Stories about Migration in the Public Square,” 2016-2017

U.S. Department of Education, Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Program, Kansas African Studies Center. 2014-2018

Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, 2015

Fulbright Scholar Program, Faculty Research and Teaching Award, University of Iceland,Reykjavík, 2004

Digital Library Initiative Development Grant. Information Services, University of Kansas, 2003