Robin Chapdelaine

Robin P. Chapdelaine

Assistant Professor
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Department of History

College Hall 615
Phone: 412.396.4759


Ph.D. Women's & Gender History, African History, Rutgers University, 2014
M.A., History, Rutgers University, 2012
Biography & Research Interests

The Persistence of SlaveryDr. Robin Chapdelaine's forthcoming book, The Persistence of Slavery: An Economic History of Child Trafficking in Nigeria, will be available in January 2021. Despite efforts to abolish slavery throughout Africa in the nineteenth century, the coercive labor systems that constitute “modern slavery” have continued to the present day. To understand why, Robin Phylisia Chapdelaine explores child trafficking, pawning, and marriages in Nigeria’s Bight of Biafra, and the ways in which British colonial authorities and Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, and Ijaw populations mobilized children’s labor during the early twentieth century. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources that include oral interviews, British and Nigerian archival materials, newspaper holdings, and missionary and anthropological accounts, Chapdelaine argues that slavery’s endurance can only be understood when we fully examine “the social economy of a child”—the broader commercial, domestic, and reproductive contexts in which children are economic vehicles.

The Persistence of Slavery provides an invaluable investigation into the origins of modern slavery and early efforts to combat it, locating this practice in the political, social, and economic changes that occurred as a result of British colonialism and its lingering effects, which perpetuate child trafficking in Nigeria today.


The Persistence of Slavery: An Economic History of Child Trafficking in Nigeria. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, Childhoods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children and Youth Series. January 2021.


(When) Will the Joy Come?: Black Womxn in the Ivory Tower, with Abena A. Asare and Michelle D. Thompson. Under advance contract with University of Massachusetts Press.


"‘He remains a second person no matter the age': Historical and Contemporary Perceptions of Childlessness and Adoption in Nigeria." Journal of West African History. Forthcoming, Vol. 7, no. 1, March 2021.

"Marriage Certificates and Walker Cards: Nigerian Migrant Labor, Wives and Prostitutes in Colonial Fernando Pó," African Economic History. Vol. 48, no. 2, Autumn 2020.

"Margaret Belcher and the Calabar Remand Home: 'Saving' Trafficked Children in Colonial Nigeria, 1950s," Bulletin of Ecumenical Theology. Vol. 32. 2020.

With A. Braham and B. Lawrance. "Social Organization, Culture, and Ritual." In A Cultural History of Slavery and Human Trafficking in the Age of Global Conflict, ed. Henrice Altink. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, Vol. 5. Forthcoming, 2021.

With B. Lawrance. "Age, Enslavement, and Trafficking." In A Cultural History of Slavery and Human Trafficking in the Age of Global Conflict, ed. Henrice Altink. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, Vol. 5. Forthcoming, 2021.

"House Girls and House Boys: The Precarious Nature of Domestic Servitude in Southern Nigeria." In Human Trafficking: Global History and Global Perspectives, eds. Elisha Dung and Augustine Avwunudiogba. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Forthcoming.

"Girl Pawns, Brides and Slaves: Child Trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria, 1920s," in Children on the Move in Africa: Past and Present Experiences of Migration, edited by M. Rodet & E. Razy. Oxford, James Currey, May 2016.


"Little Voices: The Importance and Limitations of Children's Histories," American Historical Review Exchange: Historians and the Problem of Childhood. Forthcoming October 2020.


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski, eds., Regimes of Responsibility in Africa: Genealogies, Rationalities and Conflicts (New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2020), African Studies Review, forthcoming.

Sandra Rowoldt Shell, Children of Hope: The Odyssey of the Oromo Slaves from Ethiopia and South Africa (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2018), Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. Vol. 13 no. 1, Winter 2020.

Saheed Aderinto, ed., Children and Childhood in Colonial Nigerian Histories (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Journal of West African History, Vol. 3, Issue 1, April 2017.


Editorial Assistant, The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, volume IV: When Clowns Make Laws for Queens, 1880 to 1887, ed. Ann D. Gordon (Rutgers University Press, 2006).

Honors & Awards

Severino A. Russo Endowed Faculty Development Fellowship (2020)

Paluse Faculty Research Grant (2020)

Wimmer Family Foundation Grant, Duquesne University (2016, '18, '19, '20)

American Historical Association, Bernadotte E. Schmitt Research Grant (2012)

Graduate Fellow, Rutgers University, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis (2007-2008)

Honorable Mention for the Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships Doctoral Program, The National Academies (2005)


HIST 151: Shaping of the Modern World
HIST 231: Pre-Colonial Africa
HIST 251: African History
HIST 348: History of Human Trafficking
HIST 375: Women and Gender in Africa
HIST 378: Modern Africa: Independence and Issues
HIST 447W/547 History of Human Rights from the 19th Century to the Present
HIST 602: Graduate Research Seminar
IHP 202: Honors Seminar in Global Diversity