Robin Chapdelaine

Robin Chapdelaine

Assistant Professor
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Department of History & Center for African Studies

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

Cover image of Children on the Move in Africa: Past and Present Experiences of Migration, a collection in which Dr. Robin Chapdelaine's work is featuredDr. Robin Chapdelaine studies child trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria during the colonial era. Her research interests focus on economic, political and social transformations initiated by the transatlantic trade from the nineteenth century onward. She examines the ways in which African women responded to social inequities and organized social movements to counter them, explores the development of humanitarian groups, and maps how the concept of Human Rights developed as it related to African children.

Dr. Robin Chapdelaine contributed a chapter, "Girl Pawns, Brides and Slaves: Child Trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria, 1920s," to the 2016 publication Children on the Move in Africa: Past and Present Experiences of Migration. The collection is a timely interdisciplinary, comparative and historical perspective on African childhood migration that draws on the experience of children themselves to look at where, why and how they move - within and beyond the continent - and the impact of African child migration globally.


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. Forthcoming 2021.

"Marriage Certificates and Walker Cards: Nigerian Migrant Labor, Wives and Prostitutes in Colonial Fernando Pó," African Economic History. Forthcoming.

"‘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, Fall 2020.

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

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).

Book Reviews

Children of Hope: The Odyssey of the Oromo Slaves from Ethiopia and South Africa by Sanda Rowoldt Shell, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth (2018). Forthcoming.

Children and Childhood in Colonial Nigerian Histories, ed. by Saheed Aderinto, Journal of West African History (Vol. 3, Issue 1, April 2017).


2017 Fall

"Are You My Brother?: Exploring the Incorporation of Non-biological Children into Family Life in Colonial Nigeria," Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada

"Humanitarian Efforts in Colonial Southeastern Nigeria: What was at Stake?," African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois

"The League of Nations and the Colonial State: A Campaign Against Child Trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria, 1920s-1930s," Penn State Greater Allegheny Speaker Series: West African Migration, White Oak, Pennsylvania

2017 Summer

"The League of Nations and the Colonial State: A Campaign Against Child Trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria, 1930s," University of Calabar, Nigeria.

2016 Fall

"The Remand Home: Juvenile Labor and Reform in Calabar," at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Cambridge, England.

2015 Fall

"The British Social Welfare Office: The Case of Juvenile Labor, Reform, and Nationalism in Colonial Calabar, 1950s," at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, California

"Linking History to Practice: Mapping the History of Nigeria as a Tool to Combat Human Trafficking Today," at The Social Practice of Human Rights Conference, Human Rights Center, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio

2014 Fall

Panel Chair for "Human Rights and Activism in the Colonial Era: Transregional Perspectives;" and presented "Women's and Children's Roles in Human Trafficking: Colonial Southeastern Nigeria," African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Rethinking Violence, Reconstruction and Reconciliation, Indianapolis, Indiana

2014 Spring

"Trafficked Children and Children as Traffickers in Colonial Southeastern Nigeria," The Child in Africa Conference, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

2014 Winter

"Moneylending, Marriage, and Slavery: Pawning Practices in Southeastern Nigeria, 1920s-1930s," American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

2013 Spring

"The League of Nations and the Colonial State: A Campaign Against Child Trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria, 1930s," Indaba Series, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

2012 Summer

"Female Child Dealing During the 1920s: Brides, Pawns or Slaves?" XVIth World Economic History Congress, The Economic History Society of Southern Africa and The Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

2012 Spring

"Children, Labor and Money Lending: Codification of Native Law in an International Context, 1901-1920s" AEGIS Thematic Workshop: Children & Migration in Africa: an Interdisciplinary Perspective, School for Oriental and African Studies, University of London, United Kingdom

2008 Fall

"The Social Economy of Children: Pawning, Trade and the 1929 Women's War, "African Studies Graduate Affiliates, Resonances of Resistance: Young Scholars' New Work in African Studies Conference, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

2008 Spring

"1929 Women's War: Pawnship and the Social Economy of Children," Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis Seminar Series, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

2005 Fall

"1929 Women's War: Representations of Fertility Against the Institution of Pawnship," African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Health, Knowledge, and the Body/Politic in Africa and the African Diaspora, Washington, D.C.

Upcoming Events

Workshop CFP: Children, Youth and Labor on the Eve of Independence

Hosted by Duquesne University, Department of History and The Center for African Studies
Co-sponsored by University of Pittsburgh, Department of History
Deadline for proposal submission: November 2nd, 2018

Robin P. Chapdelaine and Lara Putnam are seeking contributors for an edited collection or journal special issue focused on child labor during the years leading up to independence in various colonies. We invite scholars to submit a 400 word abstract and CV to by November 2nd, 2018. The 2-day workshop will be held March 29th-30th. The aim of the project is to reflect the various ways in which adults and children interpreted the work performed by children and youth throughout the colonies. In recent years, scholarship on children, youth and labor throughout the ‘Empire' has increased substantially. Often, discussions about child labor, in a colonial context, focus on child slavery, child trafficking and exploitation. While it is true that various forms of colonial labor forcibly incorporated children, what is unclear is how children and adolescents related their work to the colonial state. Taking into consideration that children were indoctrinated to become productive and patriotic citizens through engaging in social activities, clubs, schooling and religion-how then did they understand their labor as a form of (imperialistic) nationalism? Or did their work represent autonomy, agency and perhaps anti-imperial efforts? In what other ways was child labor understood?

- Geographic location is not limited.
- Labor is broadly defined, as is the time frame.
- Analyses that focus on class, gender and masculinity are encouraged.
- A re-consideration/articulation of patriotism, nationalism, citizens, subjects and labor is also encouraged.

A limit of 20 proposals will be accepted. Papers will be pre-circulated among the participants and need to be submitted by February 22, 2019.

Selected papers will be published in a peer-reviewed edited volume or special journal issue.

Don't hesitate to forward this CFP. Please email with any questions you may have.


HIST 151: Shaping of the Modern World
HIST 231: Pre-Colonial Africa
HIST 251: African History
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
AFST 150: Introduction to African Studies
IHP 202: Honors Seminar in Global Diversity