Assistant Professor of History
Joined Connecticut College: 2021
MA, Columbia University, History
BA, Brown University
Matt Swagler is a historian of twentieth-century Africa, focusing on decolonization and conceptions of youth in Senegal and Congo-Brazzaville. His work combines social, political, and urban history to understand why youth organizations became the primary vehicles for the expression of popular grievances against new African governments following the end of formal colonial rule. Through his research and teaching, Prof. Swagler also explores histories of childhood, Pan-Africanism, gender and sexuality in Africa, the global 1960s, and the historical dynamics of African economies.
He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Decolonization’s Discontents: Youth Radicalism in Francophone Africa, 1958-1974. During this time period, self-proclaimed youth leaders in Senegal and Congo-Brazzaville mobilized young men and women to reject the terms of French decolonization and push for a more extensive vision of independence. This work shows how they created organizations that catalyzed urban rebellions, toppling the Congolese government in 1963 and nearly doing the same in Senegal in 1968. By highlighting the words and actions of former militants from both countries, the book also explores how they articulated their local demands within frameworks adopted from shared connections to international Third World and Marxist networks.
His recent research publications have addressed the rise of autonomous youth organizations following the Congolese revolution of 1963; relations between African Intellectuals, Black American Marxists, and the Communist International; and the lives of political exiles from across Central Africa who settled in Congo in the 1960s.
Prof. Swagler joined Connecticut College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History in 2021, having previously served as a faculty member at Williams College and a writing consultant at the City University of New York.
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