Spotlight on African Studies: Professor James McCann

The African Studies Center would like to recognize a very productive and eventful year for James McCann, associate director of African Studies and professor of History. His new book has received well-deserved accolades, and he has been chosen to deliver the prestigious University Lecture on November 2

His book, The Historical Ecology of Malaria in Ethiopia: Deposing the Spirit (2015) has just been published by Ohio University Press as part of their series Ecology and History. Last month the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future hosted a discussion of the book with an enthusiastic audience. While working on his book, Professor McCann was awarded the John S. Guggenheim Award and was a Fulbright Fellow which allowed him to conduct research for the book in Ethiopia. Since the book’s release the pre-eminent historian of Africa, David Anderson, described it as “one of the most important books written on Africa in the last ten years—indeed, in any ten years.”

McCann at Taliti de Dalt_Menorca

The book is a culmination of many years of collaboration and dogged interest in the intersection of agro-ecology and public health for Professor McCann. He served as a Principle Investigator of a five-year Rockefeller Foundation research project in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, the World Health Organization, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, investigating the agro-ecology of the cultivation of maize and malaria transmission in Africa.

Historical Ecology is Professor McCann’s sixth book. Click here for other titles under his name. He has written extensively on food and agriculture, and the connection of the environment to public health and social well-being. His books have received several awards and recognitions, such as the George Perkins Marsh Prize for Best Book in Environmental History, Gourmand Magazine’s ‘Best in the World’ for Stirring the Pot, and he was twice a finalist for the Melville Herskovits Prize for Best Book in African Studies.

No sooner had Historical Ecology been published than Professor McCann started work on his next project, investigating the historical ecology of the Blue Nile. His University Lecture will be titled “Sacred Waters: Historical Ecology, Power, and the Soul of the Blue Nile”. It is a point of pride for the African Studies Center that the university has decided to focus the lecture on Africa. It is both a recognition and confirmation of how important Professor McCann’s work is and of his service to the university community at large. Congratulations, Professor McCann!