Timothy Cleaveland specializes in the history of Islamic West Africa, and has done research in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Morocco, France and Illinois. He is particularly interested in the history of slavery, race and gender in West Africa, as well as the trans-Saharan slave trade. The Saharan and North African elite historically used racism to justify slavery in ways similar to those used in the United States, and this began at least 700 years before the Atlantic slave trade.
Prof. Cleaveland teaches courses on the history of racism (HIST3760); comparative European imperialism (HIST8700); the history of slavery (HIST4515 & HIST8700); and world history (HIST2702). He also teaches courses more specifically focused on Africa, such as introductory courses on Africa before and after 1800 (HIST2501 & HIST2502); as well as thematic courses such as the history of Islam in Africa (HIST4520); the history of Africa in the World Wars (HIST3540); and the history of the Sahara (HIST3545); and the history of gender in Africa (HIST3535).
Timothy Cleaveland is the author of Becoming Walata: A History of Saharan Social Formation and Transformation. He has also published articles in the Journal of African History, the Canadian Journal of African Studies and the Journal of North African Studies. This research was partially funded by the Social Science Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Cleaveland, Timothy. “Ahmad Baba Al-Timbukti And His Islamic Critique Of Racial Slavery In The Maghrib” in The Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 20.1 (2015): 42-64.
Cleaveland, Timothy. “Timbuktu and Walata: Lineages and Higher Education” in The Meanings of Timbuktu (The Human Science Research Council Press, Cape Town: 2008), pp. 77-91.
Cleaveland, Timothy. “Changements identitaires, émigration et colonialisme à Walata, cité ancienne de Mauritanie. L'histoire politique des Lemhajib,” in Colonisations et héritages actuels au Sahara et au Sahel. Problemes conceptuels, état des lieux et nouvelles perspectives de recherche (XVIII-XXe siècles), Volume II, pp. 69-122, edited by Mariella Villasante Cervello and Christophe de Beauvais (L’Harmattan-2007).
Cleaveland, Timothy. Becoming Walata: A History Of Saharan Social Formation And Transformation. Heinemann, 2001.
Cleaveland, Timothy. “Reproducing Walati Society: Women and the Politics of Gender, Age, and Social Rank in Twentieth-Century Walata,” in The Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 34 (2000): no. 2, 189-217.
Cleaveland, Timothy. “Islam and the Construction of Social Identity in the Nineteenth-Century Sahara,” in the Journal of African History, Vol. 39 (1998): 365-388.
Cleaveland, Timothy (Co-author). "Psychiatry and medicine in the US: interpreting trends in medical specialty choice," in Sociology of Health and Illness, Vol. 9 (1987): no. 1, 45-61.
Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1995 (African History)
B.A., Austin Peay State University, 1983 (History and Political Science)