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Wright, Marcia (1935–) - African History

university historical professor columbia

Marcia Wright was born on May 26, 1935, in New Rochelle, New York, of Anglo-American ancestry. Her father was a business executive; her mother was a full-time homemaker. Wright attended public schools in Larchmont and Mamaroneck, New York, graduating from Mamaroneck High School. Her early influences included attending a cosmopolitan junior high and high school, her family, with its deep roots in New England, her church, and, as she puts it, “survival as the fourth of five children.”

Wright attended Wellesley College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1957. She received the master’s degree at Yale University in 1958 and the Ph.D. from the University of London in 1966. She was motivated to pursue the study of history because of early exposure to historical sites, an ability to appreciate and retain historical material, encouragement in the way of prizes and mentoring by teachers and professors, and a conviction that history has contemporary ramifications at all levels.

From 1964 to 1965 Wright taught as an instructor at Wellesley College. When she completed her doctorate she took an appointment as assistant professor at Columbia University, where she has been since 1966: as assistant professor from 1966 to 1972, as associate professor from 1972 to 1978, and as professor since 1978. She also spent a year, from 1974 to 1975, as visiting associate professor at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Marcia Wright is the author or co-editor of four books and the author of over thirty scholarly articles. She was one of the first U.S. scholars to conduct historical research on women in Africa. Wright’s most recent book, Strategies of Slaves and Women: Life Stories from East/Central Africa , was published in 1993 and continues her work on East and Central Africa. She has also written on women, health issues, and work issues in southern Africa. Aside from her publications, Wright takes pride in having helped found the National Archives of Tanzania.

Wright has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Fulbright, Rockefeller, and MacArthur Foundations, the Social Sciences Research Council, and Columbia University. Since 1991 she has served as chair of the Taskforce on Africa and the Core for Columbia College, and she serves or has served on the editorial boards of African Affairs, American Historical Review , and Canadian Journal of African Studies . She has acted as a member of the selection committee for the Fulbright Hayes Predoctoral Fellowships in Africa and has provided professional service to the American Historical Association and the Institute for Research in History. From 1985 to 1990 Wright was the co-convener of the Project on Poverty, Health and the State in Southern Africa, at Columbia University.

Marcia Wright’s interests outside of her work include environmental conservation, sports, and observing human value systems and identities. Wright’s family includes herself and an aunt.

Wright, Mary Clabaugh (1917–1970) - Chinese History [next] [back] Wright, Jonathan Jasper(1840–1885) - Lawyer, judge, politician, Career as Associate Justice, Chronology

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