School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Christina Mobley

Lecturer in History

Background

Introduction:

I am Lecturer in the History of Radical Ideas and Decolonizing the Curriculum Coordinator in the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology. I am an historian of Africa, the Caribbean, and Atlantic slavery and I am currently completing a book on the connections between the Kongo and Haiti in the eighteenth century entitled Vodou History: from the Kongo to the Haitian Revolution (University of Virginia Press). My research and teaching are closely linked, reflecting my commitment to  innovation in the fields of African and Caribbean history through interdisciplinary methodologies including sociolinguistics, the digital humanities, and environmental history as well as my dedication to promoting diversity and inclusivity through pedagogical practices and transnational collaborations.

Prior to joining Newcastle Uni, I held the position of Assistant Professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, where I was the founding co-director of UVA's first humanities laboratory, "Global South: Concept and Practice." In 2015, I completed my PhD at Duke University where I was fortunate to work as the research assistant in the Haiti Lab, overseeing projects such as the Haiti Digital Library and Haiti: History Embedded in Amber. These projects reflect my broader interest in the way that digital humanities technologies create the possibility for researchers at all levels to produce new knowledge and new ways of knowing, and how the digital can be a tool to redress the inequalities in the global political economy of knowledge. 

As an historian of African and the Caribbean, I am committed to promoting participation in higher education among people of colour and other marginalised groups. As HCA Decolonizing the Curriculum Co-ordinator, I have been active in working to start a dialogue about broadening the curriculum both in HCA and at Newcastle more broadly. On a more concrete level, I am happy to say I will be introducing an African history module in 2021.

I am coordinating the pilot of five interdisciplinary HCA Stage 1 modules that are geographically, chronologically, and methodologically diverse. Our goal is to create modules that are innovative, interdisciplinary, and inclusive. We de-centre Europe, the written archive, and the human to create pathways into diverse areas of study across the school, faculty, and university. To do so, we adopt inclusive pedagogical practices to create accessible educational excellence for all students.

Qualifications:

BA (Honours) History - McGill University, 2008

MA History - University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2010

Ph.D. History - Duke University, 2015

Previous Positions:

2015-19, Assistant Professor, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

2016-17, Co-Director, Mellon Global South Humanities Laboratory, Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures, University of Virginia 

2014, Lecturer, Department of History, University of Nebraska-Omaha

Honours and Awards:

Mellon Humanities Fellow, Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures, University of Virginia, 2017-18

2016, Seven Society Teaching Award, University of Virginia, 2016

I.M.P. Society, Recognition for IMPact on the University Community, 2016

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (Declined), 2015-16

Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Research Fellow, University of Kinshasa, 2013

Fulbright Fellow, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 2012-13

James B. Duke International Dissertation Award, 2012-13

FLAS Fellowship, Haitian Kreyòl, 2010-11


Research

I am a scholar of Africa and the Caribbean as well as a committed digital humanist. As a historian of slavery, I am particularly interested how methodologies such as sociolinguistics make it possible to write history in a way that does not silence Africans. In my current book project, Vodou History: from the Kongo to the Haitian Revolution, I investigate the trans-Atlantic history of the Kongo men, women, and children who endured slavery in Saint Domingue, helped win the most successful slave revolution in history – the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) – and founded the first black republic, Haiti. 

 

The research for my first manuscript has generated two new book projects. The first expands on my research on West Kikongo-speakers, using sociolinguistics to investigate the history of the Loango region over the longue durée. Arising from archival and field research in the Bas Congo and Mayombe regions of the D.R.C., the next project will use language to investigate the history of how West Kikongo-speakers responded to historical processes such as Atlantic commerce, the slave trade, and European colonization, and the impact the demographic disasters of the early modern and modern periods had on the social and institutional landscape of the region.


The second book project is one I have been working on since my undergraduate thesis: an African history of the Haitian Revolution. Writing this history requires recognizing that that Haitian Revolution, like post-independence Haiti, was characterized by diversity rather than unity. To do so, I will build on my extensive archival research, using sociolinguistics and drawing on the Vodou archive.

 

At UVA, I was co-principal investigator with Dr. Sally Pusede (Environmental Science) on a collaborative, interdisciplinary that used digital humanities and data science tools to investigate the historical drivers of the greatest public health problems facing Africa’s urban dwellers: air pollution. Using Dakar, Senegal as a case study, we explored the impact of colonialism, tracing the way colonial policies of urban planning and segregation contribute to present-day air pollution. Our research won support from the Environmental Resilience Institute and the Committee on Sustainability.

 

My research has won support from the Mellon Foundation (2017-18), the Center for Global Inquiry an Innovation at Uva (2016), the American Council of Learned Societies (2015-16 declined), the Social Science Research Council (2012-13), Fulbright Fellowship (2012-13), US Department of Education (FLAS, Haitian Kreyol, 2010-11), and Duke University Graduate School (James B. Duke Fellowship, 2012-13).

Teaching

HCA1001: Slavery

HCA1002: Big History

HCA1008: Gods, Gold, & Silk: Global Middle Ages

HIS2027: Africa: History of a Continent

Publications

  • Mobley CF. Documentary Sources and Methods for Precolonial African History. In: Spear, T, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Documentary and Written Sources. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Mobley CF. Warp and Weft: the Impact of Slaving on the Social Fabric of West Kongo Communities. In: Mutongi, Kenda, ed. Voices in the Vernacular: History in Africa. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2019. Submitted.