Boston University Professor Diana Wylie Wins African Studies Association Book Award

Contact: Richard Taffe, 617-353-4626 |

(Boston, Mass.) – Boston University Professor Diana Wylie, has been awarded the 2002 Herskovits Award from the African Studies Association for her book, “Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa” (University Press of Virginia, 2001). An associate professor in the African Studies Center and Department of History, Wylie was a 2002 winner of the University’s Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence.

The Herskovits Award, presented since 1965 by the ASA for the best scholarly work on Africa published in English in the previous year and distributed in the United States, consists of a plaque and a $500 prize. Wylie is the second BU professor to win the award, Professor Sara Berry having been honored in 1986 for “Fathers Work for Their Sons: Accumulation, Mobility, and Class Formation in an Extended Yoruba Community” (University of California Press).

Nine years in the making, Wylie’s book is “a subtle and complex analysis of the ‘science’ and politics of food in South Africa, which uses food as a prism through which 20th century South African history is seen,” according to the ASA citation for her award. “It cuts across the disciplinary boundaries of history, anthropology, history of science, political theory, and cultural studies. Wylie looks at how and what Africans ate, how that changed, and she describes the uses and misuses of nutritional science, the politics of poverty and hunger, and the ways racism and paternalism distorted the perceptions of black hunger and were used to justify apartheid.”Joining the Boston University faculty in 1994, Wylie received a B.A. in modern European history from Goucher College, a master’s in history from Edinburgh University and her Ph.D. in history from Yale University. She also has taught at Yale, Harvard University, Mount Holyoke College and Vassar College. Her gift for interpreting and retelling histories of distant cultures grew from three decades of research across the African continent, including stints with the Peace Corps in Kenya, and as a history, English, and journalism teacher at Algeria’s University of Oran.
The African Studies Association was founded in 1957 as a non-profit organization open to all individuals and institutions interested in African affairs. Located at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, N.J., the ASA is the leading North American organization that promotes African studies.

Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.