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Teresa Barnes

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Contact Information

309 Gregory Hall MC-466



I was born and grew up in the US, but I spent the better part of 25 years after college, living and working in southern Africa. I lived in Zimbabwe and South Africa, where I discovered the "gravitational pull" of African history.

I have a joint appointment at UIUC in History and Gender/Women's Studies. Since August 2017, I have been the Director of the Center for African Studies at UIUC.

Research Interests

Political, gender and institutional histories of South African universities; Political history of Zimbabwe; Gender, memoir and autobiography

Research Description

Right now my main research project focuses on a South African philosophy professor who was also a state censor, prosecution witness and perhaps even a spy in the apartheid era, 1950s and 1960s. I'm working on this project because there is not enough historiography of higher education in South Africa in this period - not enough to allow us to understand how people were educated to accept injustice. I'm intrigued by this particular professor because he held a prominent educational position for a long time and was also very outspoken in the South African national media about his support for apartheid.

I've also started writing about Zimbabwe again recently. I've been researching issues of solidarity between activists in the US, South Africa and Zimbabwe; and following my continuing interest in high school history textbooks and teaching trends in Zimbabwe.

Here are some of the papers I'm working on:

"Exporting apartheid: a South African intellectual's incursions into pan-African politics, 1960-66" 

"Good liberals, bad liberals: a new theoretical framework in South African political history"

"Before, during or after revolution? Solidarity, Radical Women’s Health Activists  and the Zimbabwe African National Union in the United States, 1979"

"Solidarity Begins at Home: expatriate anti-apartheid activism  in Harare, Zimbabwe in the 1980s"

With Munyaradzi Nyakudya and Government Phiri: "Vacuum in the classroom? Recent Trends in High School History Teaching and Textbooks in Zimbabwe"


PhD, African Economic History, University of Zimbabwe, 1994
MA with distinction, African Economic History, University of Zimbabwe, 1987
BA, International Relations, Brown University, 1979

Courses Taught

20th Century African Intellectual History
History of Southern Africa
Truth Commissions in Comparative Perspective
Memoir and Autobiography
Introduction to Gender & Women's Studies
Feminist Theories in the Humanities
Sexualities in African History
African Urban History

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, History
Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
Director, Center for African Studies

Highlighted Publications

Barnes, T. (1999). "We Women Worked So Hard": Gender, Urbanization and Social Reproduction in Colonial Harare, Zimbabwe, 1930-1956. (Social history of Africa). Heinemann [u.a.].

Barnes, T., & Win, E. (1992). To Live A Better Life: An Oral History of Women in the City of Harare, 1930-70. Baobab Books.

View all publications on Illinois Experts

Recent Publications

Semley, L., Barnes, T., Holsey, B., & Uchendu, E. (2023). Future Directions in History in Africa. History in Africa, 50, 1-6.

Semley, L., Barnes, T., Holsey, B., & Uchendu, E. (2022). Editors' Introduction: African History's Interdisciplinary Roots, Ruts, and Routes. History in Africa, 49, 1-8.

Semley, L., Barnes, T., Holsey, B., & Uchendu, E. (2021). Editors' Introduction: The Future of the African Past. History in Africa, 48, 1-8.

Barnes, T. A. (2019). Uprooting University Apartheid in South Africa: From Liberalism to Decolonization. (Routledge Contemporary South Africa; Vol. 5). Routledge.

Barnes, T. A. (2019). Urbanizing Women: Merging the Personal, Political, and Spatial. In N. Achebe, & C. Robertson (Eds.), Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective (Women in Africa and the Diaspora). University of Wisconsin Press.

View all publications on Illinois Experts