Vaughan is the Geoffrey Canada Professor for Africana Studies & History at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine. He was also Director of the Africana Studies Program at Bowdoin. Vaughan came to Bowdoin College from Stony Brook University where he was a professor of Africana Studies & History, associate dean of the Graduate School, and associate provost. He is the author and editor of eight books, including the award-winning book Nigerian Chiefs: Traditional Power in Modern Politics, 1890s-1990s (2000), forty scholarly articles, and many reviews. He has been awarded several major professional awards, including a Woodrow Wilson fellowship, SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Distinguished Scholar's Award from the Association of Third World Studies. Femi Vaughan was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria.


B.A. 1981; M.A. 1983, Government, St. John's University, N.Y.; D.Phil., Politics, 1989, Oxford University

Project Summary

Vaughan's book project at the Wilson Center explores how Nigeria's complex embrace of Islam intersects with Christian and indigenous religious traditions and how it has served in the process of state-society formation and diasporic identification. It contends that Nigerian religious structures are products of their own historical experiences and the dialectical interactions between local and global forces. Drawing on an extensive Africanist social science scholarship, Vaughan adopt a distinctive interdisciplinary perspective that integrates Nigeria's religious experiences to their historical, social, and political contexts. His project engages extensive colonial and missionary archival materials, postcolonial state documents, publications of religious groups, and newspaper reports to analyze Nigeria's dominant Islamic, Christian, and indigenous religious traditions as expressions of dynamic social currents and hierarchies of power, conditioned by history, geography, and demography.

Major Publications

  • West African Migrations: Transnational and Global Pathways in a New Century (eds. M. Okome & O. Vaughan) Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012
  • Transnational Africa and Globalization (eds. M. Okome & O. Vaughan) Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012
  • Nigerian Chiefs: Traditional Power in Modern Politics, 1890s - 1990s (University of Rochester Press, 2000) Cecil B. Currey Book Prize, Association of Third World Studies
  • Chiefs, Power, and Social Change: Chiefship and Modern Politics in Botswana, 1880s - 1990s (Africa World Press, Trenton, N.J. 2003)
  • Legitimacy and the State in Twentieth Century Africa co-editor with Terence Ranger (Macmillan Press, London, 1993)
  • "Chieftaincy Politics and Communal Identity in Colonial Western Nigeria, 1893-1951" Journal of African History, Cambridge University Press, 44, 2003, pp. 283-302

Previous Terms

Fellow: Sept. 1, 2006 - May 1, 2007; Project Title: "Islam, Christianity, and Indigenous Religions in the Formation of Modern West African States"