Jessica Achberger

Position: Adjunct Assistant Professor
Field: Africa

Office: E223 Main Library
Phone: 517-884-0839

Twitter: @JessAchberger

I am currently the African Studies Librarian at Michigan State University, where I am also Adjunct Assistant Professor of History. At MSU, I am responsible for the selection of all African Studies materials (including special and archival collections), their preservation and accessibility, and reference services to the MSU community, as well as for outside researchers. I am available to serve on the committees (comprehensive and dissertation) for graduate students in the Department of History. Throughout both of my roles at MSU, I emphasize the ethics of preservation, access, and use of materials, with a special focus on archival and unique materials.

Originally from Florida, I received a BA in History (Hons) from the University of Central Florida before moving to the University of Texas Austin for my graduate studies in African History (MA, 2010; PhD, 2012). My PhD dissertation, which focused on bilateral relations between Zambia and the People’s Republic of China, is now being finished as an expanded monograph entitled, Negotiating for Development: Zambian Economic Development in the Cold War. I received my Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Florida State University in December 2016.

Prior to coming to MSU, I was Associate Director of Research and Programmes at the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR), based in Lusaka, Zambia. At SAIPAR, and in collaboration with other regional institutions, I was actively involved in collection development and management, particularly with digital library and archival digitization projects. I am still a Research Fellow of SAIPAR, as well as on the editorial board of the Southern African Journal of Policy and Development and the advisory board for Zambia Social Science Journal.

In addition to finalizing my book manuscript. I am currently working on several projects, including a collaborative project (with Victoria Breeze) on comparing Mandarin and English language academic writing on China-Africa agricultural engagement through distant reading, specifically topic modeling. I plan to use similar methods to explore the cataloging and archival management of oral histories collected for the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, as relates to historians utilizing these archives for research.

My primary research and teaching interests are endangered material preservation, digitization and ethics, and the relationship between archival management and historical study.