Emily Lynn Osborn

Interim Dean, Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies

1427 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Executive Assistant:
Fiona O’Connor

Emily Lynn Osborn is Associate Professor in the Department of History and the College. In April 2020 she was appointed Interim Dean of the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.

Osborn is a historian of Africa, with a particular interest in precolonial and colonial West Africa. She is currently the Faculty Director of the Senegal study abroad program, and she has also served as co-director of the Committee on African Studies, chair of the College’s British fellowships committee, and on the Faculty Boards of the Center for International Social Science Research and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. She is also the Faculty Director of the Social Sciences Postdoctoral Teaching Fellows program and an editor of The Journal of African History.

She has taught courses on precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial African history, as well as graduate and undergraduate seminars on African historiography; oral sources of history; gender and state-craft; and the history of enslaved peoples and the making of the Atlantic world. In 2016, she was awarded the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Her first book, Our New Husbands Are Here: Households, Gender, and Politics in a West African State from the Slave Trade to Colonial Rule, uses gender analysis to investigate the intertwined history of household making and statecraft in Kankan, Upper Guinée (located in Guinea). Other topics on which Osborn has published include the history of technology transfer and diffusion in West Africa; the role of intermediaries in colonial rule, the Anthropocene in Africa; the history and cultural significance of the color red in the Atlantic world; and the relationship in West Africa of containers and mobility. She has also researched the effort by the United States government in the 1950s and 1960s to export the model of the land grant university to Africa.

Osborn earned her A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. Her research has been supported by Fulbright IIE and Fulbright-Hays fellowships and by the American Council of Learned Societies and Social Science Research council. Before coming to the University of Chicago, Osborn served as the Carl E. Koch Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

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