Boston University professor to give talk on Africa, food and the environment

James McCann, professor of history at Boston University, will visit York’s Keele campus March 7 to give the annual Melville-Nelles-Hoffmann Lecture in Environmental History.

His talk, “Africa’s Malarial Landscapes: History, Complexity and Silver Bullets”, is sponsored by the Department of History in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and starts at 4:30pm in the Schulich School of Business Executive Dining Room.

McCann (right) is an award-winning author and a distinguished scholar of African, environmental and agricultural history. He is interested in the agro-ecology of tropical disease, food history, Ethiopia and East Africa. His book Maize and Grace (1996) won the George Perkins Marsh Prize for best book in environmental history for that year.

He is currently associate director of development in Boston University’s African Studies Center and director ad interim of BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.

The History Department at York has had an annual environmental history lecture since 2005, when Verena Winiwarter presented the inaugural talk.

Coffee, tea and sweets will be served at 4pm, and there will be a cash bar at the end of the lecture at approximately 6pm.

About James McCann

James McCann’s research interests include the agricultural and ecological history of Africa, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, field research methods in African studies, the agro-ecology of tropical disease and the history of food/cuisine in Africa and the Atlantic world. He is the author of five books and has been a resident research fellow at Harvard University, Yale University, the National Humanities Center and the Institute of Ethiopian Studies.

He has served as consultant for OXFAM (UK), OXFAM America, Norwegian Save the Children, UNEP, and American Jewish World Service and has been invited to give testimony to the British House of Commons and twice to the US Congress.

He is currently director of a five-year Rockefeller Foundation research project in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, investigating the agro-ecology of the cultivation of maize and malaria transmission in Africa.

His current research project is a book-length study on the history of malaria in Ethiopia: “Like Bees in a Smoked Hive: The Historical Agro-ecology of Malaria in Ethiopia”, in preparation for the University of California Press.