Ndubueze L. Mbah


Dr. Mbah.

Ndubueze L. Mbah


Ndubueze L. Mbah



African History; The Atlantic World; History of Slavery and Emancipation; Gender and Sexuality; Social and Cultural History


  • PhD, Michigan State University, 2013
  • BA, University of Nigeria, 2007

Courses Regularly Taught

HST 143: Global Inequality and Power
HST 218: African States and Civilizations to 1800
HST 213: Modern Africa: Globalization and Imperialism Since 1800
GGS 350/HST 367: Women, Gender and Sexuality in Africa
HST 331: Christian and Muslim Communities in Africa
HST 418: Comparative Slavery: Africa, America and the Caribbean
HST 419: Readings in African History: Slavery, Imperialism, Gender/Sexuality, and Urbanization
HST 506: The North and South Atlantic Core Seminar

Research Interests

I am a West African Atlantic historian. I use a variety of oral, written and material culture sources to examine changing labor systems, mobilities, slavery and abolition, and cosmopolitanism; as well as constructions of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity in West Africa between the 18th and 20th centuries.

Current Research

I am currently working on a second book entitled, “African Rebellious Migrants: The Forgery of Abolition and the Quest for Freedom.” The project recovers the stories of Nigerian men, women, and children, who fostered forced labor and dependency regimes, and developed networks of illicit migration across British, Spanish and French colonies in West Africa, in pursuit of freedom and economic uplift between 1850 and 1960. I develop forgery as a theory of their freedom struggles, contradictory practices of abolitionism, and generation of new diaspora borderland communities. As colonial subjects manufactured and used legal documents, fluid kinship, and fictive social identities to evade state control, they leveraged colonial states’ use of abolitionism to mask neo-slavery regimes. Situated within studies of global Black unfreedom after the end of Atlantic slavery, African Rebellious Migrants clarifies the connection between abolitionism and the expansion of unfree labor and human trafficking in Africa, and reveals how forgery became a major feature of modern African mobility culture. 



Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2019). Click Here for Book Website


  • Winner, ASWAD “2020 Rosalyn Terborg-Penn Book Prize for Outstanding Original Scholarship on Gender and Sexuality in the African Diaspora.”
  • Finalist, ASWAD “2020 First Book Prize.”
  • Finalist, African Studies Association “2020 Best Book Prize.”


Peer Reviewed Research Encyclopedia                  

"African Masculinities," Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (Spring 2019)​

Articles in Refereed Journals    

"Performing Ogaranya: Kalu Ezelu Uwaoma, Male Slavery and Freedom Politics in Southeastern Nigeria, c.1860-1940," Journal of West African History, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring 2017): 27-60.

"Female Masculinities, Dissident Sexuality and the Material Politics of Gender in Early Twentieth-Century Igboland," The Journal of Women’s History Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter 2017): 35-60

"Judith Van Allen, ‘Sitting on a Man, and the Foundation of Igbo Women’s Studies," Journal of West African History Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall 2017): 156-165.

Book Chapter           

“Gender and Sexuality in Nigeria,” in The Routledge Handbook of Nigerian History, ed. Saheed Aderinto (NY: Routledge, Forthcoming).

"Matriliny, Masculinity, and Contested Gendered Definitions of Ethnic Identity and Power in Nineteenth-Century Southeastern Nigeria," in Gendering Ethnicity in African Women’s Lives, ed. J. B. Shetler (University of Wisconsin Press, 2015), 233-264.

Book Review            

Review of Florence Bernault, Colonial Transactions: Imaginaries, Bodies, and Histories in Gabon (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019), Journal of African History [Forthcoming].

Review of Political Organization in Nigeria Since the Late Stone Age: A History of the Igbo People, by John. N. Oriji, Journal of West African History, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer 2018): 129-131.


Film Documentary: “Historical Ethnography with the Ohafia-Igbo: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age.” (June 2015).

Select Awards and Fellowships

  • 2019-2020: American Council of Learned Societies Centennial Fellowship in the Dynamics of Place
  • 2019: SUNY OVPRED/HI Research Fellowship, SUNY-Buffalo
  • 2017-2018: History Department Faculty Research Grant, SUNY-Buffalo
  • 2016: ​Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship
  • 2015: The Wenner-Gren Foundation Engaged Anthropology Grant  
  • 2014: Civic Engagement Research Dissemination Fellowship
  • 2011:​ The Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
  • 2008-2013:  Harold G. Marcus Distinguished Fellowship in African History


  • Book Review Editor, Journal of West African History (JWAH​)​
  • African Studies Association
  • American Historical Association
  • New York African Studies Association