Lynette Jackson

Associate Professor of African American Studies and Gender and Women's Studies


Ph.D. History & African History, Columbia University
B.A. Cum Laude, Political Science, Wellesley College

Research Interests

Dr. Jackson is the author of Surfacing Up: Psychiatry and Social Order in Colonial Zimbabwe (Cornell 2005) and numerous other articles and book chapters on topics relating to women, the state and medical and public health discourses in colonial and postcolonial Africa, particularly having to do with the regulation of African women's sexuality. Dr. Jackson's current research explores the history of child refugee diasporas from Southern Sudan, particularly focusing on two streams of unaccompanied children: The Lost Boys and Girls and the Cuban 600. She has also begun conducting research for a critical biography of Winnie Mandela.

Dr. Jackson is engaged in social justice and human rights activism, with a particular focus on the human rights of women and girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered peoples in Africa. She serves on the Chicago Committee of Human Rights Watch, the World Refugee Day planning committee and held previous board memberships on Heartland Alliance's Human Care Services and Vanavevhu: Children of the Soil, an organization that caters to orphans and vulnerable children from Zimbabwe. Dr. Jackson also provides expert witness testimony in gender-based political asylum cases, particularly cases involving Female Genital Mutiliation.

For an excerpt of Surfacing Up, please click on the image below:



Colonial and Postcolonial Politics of Mental Health in Zimbabwe

The truth is that colonialism in its essence…[is] a fertile purveyor for psychiatric hospitals.

Frantz Fanon, The wretched of the Earth

The history of psychiatry in colonial Zimbabwe is interwoven with histories of struggle: struggles to impose and maintain colonial social order, struggles to keep the “natives” in their place; struggles to resist colonially imposed socio-spatial assignments; struggled for racial and gender justice, self-determination and national independence; struggles to silence, and struggles to be heard. By examining how discourses and practices pertaining to mental illness overlapped with those of power and authority, this book explores how the discipline of psychiatry and the place of the asylum were important sites of struggle and contestation over space (the body, the hospital, the territory or nation) and meaning (the nature of reason, healing, and recovering) in colonial Zimbabwe. I look at how different and disparate social orders—the colonized and the colonizing—have sought to define, contain, and repair disorders of the mind and the body (physical and social), and the implications of what was often a mutual incomprehension…

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Contact Information

Office: 1230 UH
Phone: 312-413-2457
Fax: 312-355-4478
Curriculum Vitae