Professor Jamie Monson became interested in Africa when she served as an agriculture volunteer for the Peace Corps in rural Kenya in 1980. She then completed her PhD in African History at UCLA, and took her first teaching position at Carleton College in 1991. In 2015, she accepted a position as a Professor of African History in the Department of History and Director of African Studies at Michigan State University. Monson’s early research focus was on agricultural and environmental history of southern Tanzania, and she has also worked on anti-colonial warfare in German East Africa. In the late 1990s, she began a new research project on the history of the TAZARA railway, built with Chinese development aid in Tanzania and Zambia in the 1960s and 1970s. Her book, Africa’s Freedom Railway, was published by Indiana University Press in 2011.
Most recently, Monson has been studying the history of China-Africa relations (and learning Chinese), and frequently performs research in China. Her new project is a study of technology transfer in the history of Chinese development assistance to Africa. A second project that she is also engaged in uses records of visits made by African women’s delegations to China during the Cultural Revolution to examine gendered aspects of civil diplomacy.