Catherine Higgs

Professor

History
Office: ART 317
Phone: 250.807.9978
Email: catherine.higgs@ubc.ca

Graduate student supervisor



Research Summary

Southern Africa; Portuguese Africa; Atlantic World; religion; politics; activism; labour; agriculture; policy.

Courses & Teaching

Africa; South Africa; British and Portuguese colonialism; religious history; women's history; world history.

Biography

Catherine Higgs earned her PhD in modern African history at Yale University. She joined UBC’s Okanagan in 2015 as Head of the Department of History and Sociology, completing a five-year term in 2020. Prior to joining UBC, she taught at the University of Tennessee, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and at Rollins College, a liberal arts college in Winter Park, Florida.

Higgs’ scholarship has focused on the intersections of politics, religion, labour and activism. Her approach is interdisciplinary and transnational. She is the author of Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa, which examines the Cadbury cocoa scandal in Portuguese colonial Africa. The Ghost of Equality: The Public Lives of D. D. T. Jabavu of South Africa, 1885-1959, explores the impact of a noted African political activist, who was also South Africa’s first black university professor. Her new manuscript, Sisters for Justice: Small Acts in the Transformation of Apartheid South Africa is under review. Higgs is, in addition, the lead editor of Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas, and a co-editor of In India and East Africa/E-Indiya nase East Africa: A Travelogue in isiXhosa and English.

Her research has been funded by the National Humanities Center, the American Philosophical Society, the Luso-American Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Higgs teaches about Africa, Southern Africa and the Atlantic World. Newer courses focus on commodities, labor and public policy, including China’s investment in Africa.

Degrees

PhD, Yale University
MPhil, Yale University
MA, Yale University
BA (Honours), Queen’s University, Kingston

Selected Publications & Presentations

Google Scholar

“Monasticism in Africa South of the Sahara.” In The Oxford Handbook of Christian Monasticism, edited by Bernice Kaczynski. 541-557. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

In India and East Africa/E-Indiya Nase East Africa: A Travelogue in isiXhosa and English, by D. D. T. Jabavu. Translated by Cecil Wele Manona, edited by Tina Steiner, Mhlobo Jadezweni, Catherine Higgs and Evan M. Mwangi. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 2020. (312 p.)

“Revisiting D. D. T. Jabavu, 1885-1959.” In In India and East Africa/E-Indiya Nase East Africa: A Travelogue in isiXhosa and English, by D. D. T. Jabavu. Translated by Cecil Wele Manona. Edited by Tina Steiner, Mhlobo Jadezweni, Catherine Higgs and Evan M. Mwangi. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 2020.

“In Praise of Cecil Wele Manona, 1937-2013.” In India and East Africa/E-Indiya Nase East Africa: A Travelogue in isiXhosa and English, by D. D. T. Jabavu. Translated by Cecil Wele Manona. Edited by Tina Steiner, Mhlobo Jadezweni, Catherine Higgs and Evan M. Mwangi. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 2020.

“Ruth First: The Obligation to Dissent.” In African Muckraking, edited by Anya Schiffrin with George Lugalambi.3-10. Johannesburg: Jacana Media, 2017.

“Sol Plaatje: ‘All we claim is our just dues.'” In African Muckraking, edited by Anya Schiffrin with George Lugalmabi. 52-60. Johannesburg: Jacana Media. 2017.

“Happiness and Work: Portuguese Peasants, British Laborers, African Contract Workers, and the Case of São Tomé and Príncipe, 1901-1909.” International Labor and Working Class History 86 (Fall): 55-71. Special issue on African Labor Histories, edited by Franco Barchiesi and Stefano Belluci, 2014.

“Henry Woodd Nevinson: Part VI—The Islands of Doom (1906) from Harper’s Monthly Magazine.” Introduced by Catherine Higgs. In Colonial Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism, edited by Anya Schiffrin. 33-39. New York: New Press, 2014.

“The Cabra Dominican Sisters and the ‘Open Schools’ Movement in Apartheid South Africa.” With Margaret Kelly, OP. International Studies in Catholic Education 4 1 (March 2012): 4-15.

Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012. First paperback edition, 2013. (230 p. + xvi)

Reviewed inAgricultural History, vol. 88, no. 4 (2014); African Affairs, vol. 113, no. 450 (2014); Enterprise and Society, vol. 15, no. 1 (2014); International Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 46, no. 2 (2013); Journal of African History, vol. 54, no. 2 (2013); H-net.org/reviews (H-Luso Africa, August 2013); London Review of Books, vol. 35 no. 7 (April 11, 2013); Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (January 2013); Library Journal (November 2012); Book News (October 2012); Book List (August 1, 2012).

“Silence, Disobedience, and African Catholic Sisters in Apartheid South Africa.” African Studies Review 54 2 (September 2011): 1-22.

“Jabavu, Davidson Don Tengo” and “Jabavu, John Tengo.” In The Dictionary of African Biography, edited by Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

“Embracing Activism in Apartheid South Africa: The Sisters of Mercy in Bophuthatswana, 1974-1994.” With Jean N. Evans, RSM. The Catholic Historical Review 94 3 (July 2008): 500-521.

“Zenzele: African Women’s Self-Help Organizations in South Africa, 1927-1998.” African Studies Review 47 3 (December 2004): 119-141, 2014.

“Drugs, Sex and HIV/Aids in Contemporary South Africa.” African Studies Review 47 2 (September 2004): 124-130.

Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas, edited by Catherine Higgs, Barbara A. Moss and Earline Rae Ferguson. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002. (331 p. + xxiii)

Reviewed inInternational Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 38, no. 1 (2005): 132-134; African Studies Review, vol. 46, no. 3 (2003): 193-194.

“Helping Ourselves: Black Women and Grassroots Activism in Segregated South Africa, 1922-1952.” In Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas, edited by Catherine Higgs, Barbara A. Moss and Earline Rae Ferguson. 59-72. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002.

“Introduction.” With Barbara A. Moss. In Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas, edited by Catherine Higgs, Barbara A. Moss and Earline Rae Ferguson. xiii-xxiii. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002.

“A Christian, Civilized Man: D.D.T. Jabavu of South Africa.” In Agency and Action in Colonial Africa: Essays for John Flint, edited by Chris Youé and Tim Stapleton. 100-125. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

“Travel with a Purpose: A South African at Tuskegee, 1913.” The Journal of African Travel-Writing 8/9 (2000): 126-132.

“Full Circle: Sol Plaatje, Anton Lembede, Mamphela Ramphele and the Struggle for Civil Rights in South Africa.” Canadian Journal of African Studies 32 2 (1998): 380-389.

The Ghost of Equality: The Public Lives of D.D.T. Jabavu of South Africa, 1885-1959. Athens: Ohio University Press; Cape Town & Johannesburg: David Philip; University of the Western Cape: Mayibuye Books, 1997. (276 p. + xiii)

Reviewed inAfrica: Journal of the International African Institute, vol. 70, no. 1 (2000); American Historical Review vol. 104, no. 1 (1999) International Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 31, no. 3 (1998); African History, vol. 39 (1998); Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), vol. 68, no. 3 (1998); Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (July 1997); African Studies Quarterly (online [1997]); Mail and Guardian (South Africa), May 1-8, 1997.

Selected Grants & Awards

2019-2022: UBC PURE (Program for Undergraduate Research Experience) grant for “Engaging Osoyoos’ Past and Present: Land, People, Industry.”  ($86,248 CAD)

  • Principal Investigator: Catherine Higgs
  • Collaborators: Kara Burton, Executive Director, Osoyoos Museum, Osoyoos, BC and Tim Paulson, Department of History and Sociology, UBC Okanagan

2012-2013: National Humanities Center John E. Sawyer Fellowship, endowed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($45,000 US)

2006: American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship ($30,000 US)

 

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