Search within:

Join Authors @ Alden with Dr. Laura Ann Twagira

Morgan Spehar
March 22, 2022
Authors at Alden event informational graphic, outlining the details listed below
Graphic design by Brooke Stanley/Ohio University Libraries

On March 30, 2022, join Ohio University Libraries for a conversation with Dr. Laura Ann Twagira on Microsoft Teams starting at 3:30 p.m. as part of the Libraries’ Authors @ Alden speaker series. Twagira is an associate professor of history at Wesleyan University will be discussing her book, “Embodied Engineering: Gendered Labor, Food Security and Taste in Twentieth Century Mali.”

Twagira, head of African Studies at Wesleyan University, is an expert in gender and sexuality in Africa; technology and development in Africa; global gender history; and the environment. She began her research after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali in West Africa.

Her most recent work is a case study that shows how the women of Mali have used technology to ensure their food security during colonialism, environmental crises and postcolonial rule. 

“It was really their labor that made it a place where people could eat and live,” Twagira said. “Rather than looking at women in need of…aid and technology, we should be looking to learn from them about how their technological expertise can help us actually understand how they interact with different ecological crises and different challenges that people are interested in learning about.”

“Embodied Engineering” was published by the Ohio University Swallow Press, which has developed into a leading publisher of books about Africa, Appalachia, Southeast Asia and the Midwest since its founding in 1947. 

“I always like to mention why I picked the term ‘engineering.’ Women in Africa aren’t often thought of as engineers,” Twagira said, “but essentially they engineered the rural space in the countryside, and they engineered daily life.” 

Twagira’s book is based on two years of dedicated to research, during which she took several trips to Mali.  She also spent a year researching and writing while a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. In the book, she weaves together interviews with the women of Mali, folk tales and her archival research to tell the story of Mali’s rural women engineers.

For her Authors @ Alden talk, Twagira will be interviewed by Araba Dawson-Andoh, subject librarian for African studies and the social sciences at the Libraries. Dawson-Andoh works in the Center for International Collections, and her background in African studies, African and Asian languages, development studies and government documents will help create a robust conversation. 

Those interested in environmental studies and climate change will likely be interested in the Authors @ Alden talk, as well as those who study women’s history, the history of technology or African Studies. Twagira said that those interested in the economy in West Africa would also likely find the book interesting. 

“In my mind this is a story for everyone,” she said. 

Join the University Libraries on March 30, 2022, beginning at 3:30 p.m. for our Authors @ Alden event on Microsoft Teams with Dr. Laura Ann Twagira. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the event or to request accessibility accommodations, contact Jen Harvey, library events coordinator, at