Ph. D., University of Michigan
African and South Asian History and Anthro-History
T: (617) 373-4438
Katherine Luongo studies legal systems in colonial and contemporary Africa and global legal regimes. She is particularly interested in the intersections of the supernatural, law, and politics in Africa and in the interactions of African witchcraft and forced migration.
Her book, Witchcraft and Colonial Rule in Kenya, 1900-1955, published by Cambridge University Press, examines how conflicts between state authorities and Africans over witchcraft-related crimes provided an important space in which the meanings of justice, law, and order in the empire were debated. A work of anthropological history, the book develops an ethnography of Kamba witchcraft or uoi.
Witchcraft and Colonial Rule was a finalist in 2012 for the American Historical Association Martin Klein Award, the African Studies Association Bethwell A. Ogot Prize for Best Book in East African Studies, and the University of London Warburg Society Katharine A. Briggs Award.
Dr. Luongo has also published on diverse topics such as the Mau Mau rebellion, the Kenya National Archives, witchcraft as a form domestic violence, and the legal genealogies of key concepts such as “malice aforethought” and “provocation.” With Matthew Carotenuto, St. Lawrance University, she is the author of Obama and Kenya: Contested Histories and the Politics of Belonging, the first scholarly work to examine the history of Kenya through the experiences of the Obama family and to challenge critically the spate of recent popular, erroneous depictions of Kenya’s history and politics (under contract with Ohio University Press).
Her new research project examines how African asylum-seekers appearing in immigration courts in North America and Europe and before UNCHR protection officers across the globe have mobilized witchcraft beliefs as a basis for asylum claims. She has presented her new research at the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, McGill University, the African Studies Association Annual Meeting, at the workshop on “Witchcraft, Belonging and Citizenship in a Global World,” at the Université de Louvain, and as a fellow at the Cambridge University Centre for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Her chapter, “Allegations, Evidence, and Evaluation: Asylum-Seeking in a World with Witchcraft”will appear in Activism, Asylum, and the Academy at a Crossroads: Expert Testimony and the Construction of Modern Africa, eds. Benjamin Lawrance, Tricia Redeker-Hepner, and Meredith Terretta, (under contract with Ohio University Press.)
Dr. Luongo teaches undergraduate courses on precolonial and modern African history, the history of urban Africa, and world history. She teaches graduate courses on modern African history, anthropological history, and legal history.
Dr. Luongo is on leave for 2013-2014, and is currently a fellow at the Princeton University Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies.