Program in African Studies

Associated Faculty



Andre Benhaim

Professor of French and Italian; Director of Graduate Studies

A native of Paris, France, André Benhaïm received a Maîtrise de Lettres Modernes from the Université de Paris-7, and a Diplôme d’Etudes Avancées from the Université de Lille-3, before obtaining his Ph.D. from Emory University. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2001. Benhaïm’s main areas of research and teaching are 20th-century French prose literature and culture and Francophone literature and culture from North Africa and the Mediterranean. He is particularly interested in questions of identity and representation, and the relation between ethics and aesthetics, he also focuses on the relationship between “canonical” literature, contemporary works, and “popular culture.” A Proust scholar, he is the author of "Visages de Proust," and of a collection "The Strange M. Proust." He has also co-edited "Ecrivains de la Préhistoire," and a special issue of the journal Revue des Sciences Humaines entitled “Petits coins. Lieux de Mémoire." His research has led him to study French and Francophone bandes dessinées, from Hergé’s Tintin to Joann Sfar’s Le Chat du Rabbin. Benhaïm's latest publications include a book on Albert Camus and the everyday, "Albert Camus au Quotidien."


Lauren Coyle

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Lauren Coyle Rosen’s research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of legal and political anthropology, comparative religion and spirituality, aesthetics and consciousness, subjectivity and epistemology, and critical theory. Her geographical focuses are on Ghana and on Africa and the diaspora, more broadly, as well as on the U.S. She is a faculty affiliate at the Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA). She was previously a faculty fellow for the Fung Global Fellows Program at Princeton. Prior to assuming her professorship at Princeton, she was a fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Before this, she was a postdoctoral lecturer on law and social studies at Harvard, as well as a research fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute in the Hutchins Center at Harvard.


Hannah Essien

Lecturer in the Program in African Studies

Hannah Essien is a lecturer with the Program in African Studies and the Arabic languag program. She was instructor of Twi language and Akan culture in the Department of African Studies at Indiana University. Essien has also taught English at the Ghana Institute of Languages and Arabic at the University of Ghana, the Summer Cooperative African Languages Institute at Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois. Her research interest includes Arabic word structure, Arabic derivational morphology and Arabic translation.


Emmanuel Kreike

Professor of History

Emmanuel Kreike has a Ph.D. in African history from Yale University and a Ph.D. in tropical forestry from the School of Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. His research and teaching interests focus on the intersection of war/violence, population displacement, environment and society. He is particularly interested in how violence (including colonial conquest, the apartheid wars and slave raiding) and ensuing forced migration led to the destruction of human landscapes and how people rebuild lives and livelihoods in often alien environments. He has taught courses in African history and environmental history at Princeton, as well as courses in forestry and environmental sciences in Namibia and South Africa.


Florian Lionnet

Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the Council of the Humanities; Jonathan Dickinson Bicentennial Preceptor

Florian Lionnet received his Ph.D. from University of California-Berkeley. His research focuses on sound systems (phonetics/phonology), typology, areal and historical linguistics, as well language documentation and description, with a specific focus on African languages. He is currently involved in research on understudied and endangered languages in southern Chad, which involves yearly field trips.


Mahiri Mwita

Lecturer, Program in African Studies

Mahiri Mwita is a lecturer in Swahili in the Program in African Studies and leads the eight-week intensive summer course in Swahili for Princeton in Dar es Salaam. He has taught Swahili at Egerton University in Kenya, where he also served as coordinator of the Swahili program, and more recently at St. Lawrence University in New York. Mwita has a particular interest in comparative literature and drama and is the author of a play, Posa (The Engagement, 1992). He has also written articles on Swahili literature and poetry. Besides his teaching duties, Mwita is working on a book, "Improvising Experiential Activities and Creative Learning in the African Language Classroom," and on two collections of poetry. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Dar es Salaam.

Daniel Rubenstein

Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology; Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Daniel Rubenstein's research focuses on decision-making in animals. He studies how an individual's foraging, mating and social behavior are influenced by its phenotype, by ecological circumstances, and by the actions of other individuals in the population, and develops simple mathematical models to generate predictions that can be tested using data gathered from structured field observations or experimental manipulations.


Gavin Steingo

Associate Professor of Music

Gavin Steingo seeks to understand globally circulating musical practices from the perspective of the geopolitical South. His research includes examinations of music and value, infrastructures and audio technologies, sound and race, and the politics of world music circulation. Steingo has recently pursued these topics in a monograph, "Kwaito’s Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa," which was awarded the Alan P. Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology, and through conversations with scholars across a broad spectrum of disciplines — a special issue of the journal boundary 2 co-edited with Jairo Moreno (“Econophonia: Music, Value, and Forms of Life”); a co-edited book series (also with Jairo Moreno) exploring intersections of music and sound for Oxford University Press; and a volume (co-edited with Jim Sykes) on decolonizing sound studies from Duke University Press.


Leonard Wantchekon

James Madison Professor of Political Economy, Professor of Politics and International Affairs

Leonard Wantchekon is a professor of politics and international affairs, as well as associated faculty in Department of Economics. A scholar with diverse interests, Wantchekon has made substantive and methodological contributions to the fields of political economy, economic history and development economics, and has also contributed significantly to the literatures on clientelism and state capture, resource curse and democratization.


Jennifer Widner

Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Jennifer Widner is professor of politics and international affairs and director of Innovations for Successful Societies, a SPIA research program on improving government performance. Her current research focuses on the political economy of institutional reform, government accountability and service delivery.  She also is interested in constitution writing, constitutional design and fair dealing. She is author of "Building the Rule of Law," a study of courts and law in Africa, and she has published articles on a variety of topics in Democratization; Comparative Politics; Comparative Political Studies; Journal of Development Studies; The William & Mary Law Review; Daedalus; the American Journal of International Law; and other publications. She is completing work on a book about making government work in challenging settings, drawing on experiences in Africa, Asia and parts of Latin America.