Elisa Prosperetti is a historian of contemporary West Africa. She studies the aspirations that many people have held for formal schooling to open the door to “progress” in West Africa – whether those people are returned slaves, nationalist leaders, development economists or ordinary citizens. Focusing on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, Prosperetti explores this question by combining dozens of on-the-ground oral histories with a global history approach.
In her courses, Prosperetti invites students to critically examine narratives about the past and how they are connected to the historical contexts in which they are produced. Where do the stories we tell about the past come from, and how do they shape how we understand our present? This question is at the heart of her teaching.
Prosperetti also regularly interviews authors for the New Books Network’s “African Studies” channel.