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Dr Benedetta Rossi

Benedetta Rossi is Associate Professor in the History and Anthropology of Africa. Her work focuses on twentieth and nineteenth century African social history, with a predominant focus on slavery and other forms of unfreedom, labour, migration, planned development, and gender. She is currently completing her second book, Slavery and Freedom in Twentieth Century Africa, while also working on a number of collaborative writing and editorial projects on global and comparative slavery with Oxford University Press (UK), Seuil (France), and Bloomsbury (US). Between October 2020 and September 2025, she holds an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council on African Abolitionism: The Rise and Transformations of Anti-Slavery in Africa (AFRAB).  

PhD Supervision 

Benedetta supervises students in areas related to African and global slavery, abolition, and emancipation and the African and comparative history of free and unfree labour (nineteenth and twentieth centuries).

Current students: 

Joe Abell, ‘gender, development and HIV prevention in Northern Uganda’; Sophie Küspert-Rakotondrainy ‘Transformations of Hierarchies in Western Ethiopia. The case of the Mao.’

Recently completed:

Eunice Apio, ‘Children Born of War in Northern Uganda: Kinship, Marriage, and the Politics of Post-conflict Reintegration in Lango society’ (PhD, 2016); Paul Jacob Naylor, ‘From Rebels to Rulers: Political and Religious Legitimacy in the writings of the Sokoto Fodiawa 1803-1837’ (PhD, 2018); Eleanor Seymour, ‘“You are Beaten if you are Bad… You Woman You have Made Your Husband Tired”: Investigating Gender Violence in Northern Uganda’ (PhD, 2020); Toni Smith, ‘Colonial Attitudes toward Women, Slavery and Gender Violence in the Congo, 1900-1930s’ (PhD, 2020); Irene Kamaratou, ‘Seeking Asylum in Greece: Institutional and Social Responses to African Migrant Women in Athens’ (MA by Research, 2020).  

Major publications

  • Benedetta Rossi, ‘Périodiser la fin de l’esclavage: Le droit colonial, la Société des Nations et la résistance des esclaves dans le Sahel nigérien, 1920-1930’. Les Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales, vol. 72 (2018), no. 4, pp. 983-1021.
  • Toby Green and Benedetta Rossi, eds., Landscapes, Sources, and Intellectual Projects of the West African Past. Co-edited with Toby Green. Leiden: Brill, 2018.
  • Benedetta Rossi, ‘What “Development” Does to Work’. International Labor and Working Class History, vol. 92 (2017), pp. 7-23. Introduction to Special Issue on ‘Developmentalism, Labor, and the Slow Death of Slavery in Twentieth Century Africa’ guest-edited by Benedetta Rossi.   
  • Benedetta Rossi, ed. Reconfiguring Slavery: West African Trajectories. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 2016, paperback edition with new preface (first published 2009).
  • Benedetta Rossi, ‘The Agadez Chronicles and Y Tarichi: A Reinterpretation’. History in Africa, vol. 43 (2016), pp. 95-140.
  • Benedetta Rossi, From Slavery to Aid: Politics, Labour, and Ecology in the Nigerien Sahel, 1800-2000. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press (African Studies series), 2015.
  • Anne Haour and Benedetta Rossi, eds., Being and Becoming Hausa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Co-edited with Anne Haour. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

For a full list of publications see Benedetta Rossi’s website

Active and recent grants/projects

Major research grants 

  • 10/2020-09/2025, European Commission Advanced Grant (ERC), PI: Benedetta Rossi. ‘African Abolitionism: The Rise and Transformations of Anti-Slavery in Africa’ (AFRAB).
  • 10/2018-01/2020, AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund, Anti-slavery Knowledge Network Grant, PI: Benedetta Rossi. ‘Legacies of Slavery in Niger: Mobilising Memory, Heritage, and Politics to End Abuse’ (LESLAN). 
  • 03/2018-02/2023, European Commission Starting Grant (ERC), PI: Camille Lefebvre.  ‘Hausa and Kanuri Languages as Archive for the History of Sahara and Sahel in 18th and 19th Century’ (LANGARCHIV). Benedetta Rossi is Senior Researcher in the project.

Collaborative and network grants 

  • 11/2019-10/2023, EU Horizon 2020 COST CA18205 “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK
  • 01/2017-05/2021, European Commission Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), Network Grant, ‘Slavery in Africa: A Dialogue between Europe and Africa’ (SLAFNET). PI: Marie-Pierre Ballarin (Université Côte d’Azur, France). 
  • 09/2015-09/2020, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC Canada), Partnership Grant, ‘Conjugal Slavery in War: Partnership for the Study of Enslavement, Marriage, and Masculinities’. PI: Annie Bunting (York, Canada).

Media appearances 

Teaching

  • Slavery and Abolition in Africa, 19th-20th centuries (Masters module)