Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs

Walter HawthorneWalter Hawthorne

Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs,
Professor of History
College of Social Science, Michigan State University


Dr. Walter Hawthorne is an Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs and a Professor of African History. Much of his research has focused on African agricultural practices, religious beliefs, and family structures in the Old and New Worlds. Dr. Hawthorne's first book, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves: Transformations along the Guinea-Bissau Coast, 1400–1900 (Heinemann: 2003), explores the impact of interactions with the Atlantic, and particularly slave trading, on small-scale, decentralized societies. His most recent book, From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade 1600-1830 (Cambridge: 2010), examines the slave trade from Upper Guinea to Amazonia Brazil.  Dr. Hawthorn has published in a range of scholarly journals such as Journal of African History, Luso-Brazilian Review, Slavery and Abolition, Africa, Journal of Global History, and American Historical Review.

Dr. Hawthorne is heavily involved in digital scholarship and have partnered with MATRIX, MSU’s digital humanities center, for a number of projects. With Matrix, he completed work on a British-Library funded archival digitization project in The Gambia. The team has an ongoing NEH-sponsored project titled Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network, which is an online database with information about the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World. The team has also developed NEH-sponsored project titled Islam and Modernity. For it, they have developed a site for the publication of texts, images, interviews, and interpretive essays, examining the practice of Islam in West Africa. Finally, Dr. Hawthorne and his partners at Matrix received $1.4M in funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Enslaved: People of the Historic Slave Trade. The project will result in a unique online data hub that will change the way scholars and the public understand African slavery.

If you would like to contact Walter Hawthorne, please contact his assistant Joy Pond at