Margaret Hamilton Associate Professor, History
Regional Areas of Research: Ancient to Modern Africa, Atlantic World, Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Thematic Areas of Research: Comparative and Transnational, Cultural/Intellectual, Imperialism and Colonialism, Environmental, French Atlantic, Historiography and Historical Memory, Material Culture, Religion, Science and Medicine
Gérard Chouin received his MA (Maîtrise) and Mphil (DEA) in African History from the University of Paris-I, Panthéon-Sorbonne in 1992 and 1993 respectively. He served six years as a lecturer at the University of Ghana, and at the University of Cape Coast before joining a PhD program in Anthropology/Historical Archaeology at Syracuse University as a Graduate Fellow. In 2009, he completed his dissertation on the history and archaeology of Southern Ghana, and subsequently accepted an appointment as Director of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA-Nigeria) at the University of Ibadan from 2010 to 2013. He came to William and Mary to teach and research medieval to modern histories of Africa.
His research interests and areas of expertise include pre-Atlantic and early modern Atlantic West African sacred landscapes, earthworks, trade, sociopolitical systems, urbanization, social collapse, diseases, food, plants and cuisines; and West African politics. An article on his most recent scholarly activity can be found here: Lizzie Wade, "The Black Death may have transformed medieval societies in sub-Saharan Africa," Science. Chouin recently took part in a Webinar on the state of current research on the Black Death run by the Medieval Academy of America.
Gérard has authored several books focusing on seventeenth century West Africa in the Atlantic world, with a special interest in editing and publishing pre-twentieth century European source material. His current projects include the publication of Jean Godot’s unpublished account of a journey to West Africa in 1701 and the correspondence of Marie-Joseph Bonnat from the Niger Delta from 1866 to 1868.
He is also developing a book manuscript on the subject of landscape and history in Southern Ghana (500–1900 AD). His research combines evidence from oral traditions, archival material, travel accounts, and archaeological surveys and excavations. In partnership with Dr. Adisa Ogunfolakan and the A. G. Leventis Natural History Museum at Obafemi Awolowo University of Ile-Ife, south-western Nigeria, he leads a team of scientists in the framework of the IFE-SUNGBO Archaeological Project (2015-2018), which focuses on the history of urbanization in the West African tropical forest belt during the first and second millennia AD, with a central focus on the growth and collapse of earthworks systems. He is also a team leader in the ANR-funded project GLOBAFRICA (2015-2018) with a research axis exploring the possible spread of the first and second plague pandemics in sub-Saharan Africa.