Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History, Boston College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, New York University (NYU)
Villagization Revisited: Rural Development in Theory and Practice

My project will examine ujamaa villagization in late 1960s-early 1970s Tanzania with the intention of injecting historical contingency, popular agency, and an appreciation for discursive innovation into existing assessments of the program. The primary contribution of my research will be to challenge the notion that villagization was a one-sided, top-down process implemented by an omnipotent authoritarian state; I will show, rather, that rural “objects” of development often engaged with a variety of state actors to use official policy for their own political advancement and material gain. As such my work will contribute to a burgeoning but relatively thin historical literature on development policy and nationalism in postcolonial Africa, as well as offer evidence for a theorization of African state power that highlights process and interaction between multiple actors endowed with agency to influence each other. Furthermore, my project will analyze the creative ideological foundations underpinning villagization as policy, exploring connections between the Tanzanian state and other radical political projects internationally. My research will draw from a variety of sources including interviews with villagers and state officials in the Southeastern districts of Mtwara and Lindi, local and national archival materials, and newspaper accounts.