I have had the good fortune to study and teach in many different places.
My undergraduate Honours and Master’s degrees (both in history), are from the University of Toronto. But in a ‘Third-Year Abroad’ programme, I spent a year at the Centre for West African Studies (CWAS), Birmingham University, UK. This very positive year drew me back there for my PhD work (1976-1980). During this time, I lived not only in Birmingham but also Bristol and London, and spent seven months doing field research in West Africa (Mali, Mauritania) and archival work in Paris. I then held Post-Doctoral Fellowships at Dalhousie and York Universities, and limited-contract positions at Duke and Toronto Universities before coming to Alberta in 1986. [see my full CV for dates, administrative and committee history]
I initially intended to go into Law but that third year at CWAS changed all that: I was totally captivated by African studies. That year I took two undergraduate and three graduate courses in political science, anthropology/material culture, sociology, history and economic history. This experience shaped my interdisciplinary approach to what I teach and research. I chose to work with my (then) professor in economic history to prepare a thesis on a Sahara-desert salt mine and the people who mined it, controlled it, transported its salt and marketed/purchased its salt in the sahelian (Mali) regions to the south.
I’ve never looked back. Projects since my PhD expanded these interests into southern Morocco as well [see ‘Research’ below]. What this all means is that I have had excuses to work in London, Paris and Aix-en-Provence in Europe, and Mali, Mauritania, Morocco and Senegal (Dakar) in West Africa, doing both archival and interviewing research.
That said, I have indulged that initial interest in law by offering my expertise in cases of Mauritanians seeking refugee status in Canada, the US and the UK. Mauritania is a country that knew abolition of Slavery in 1980, a coup-d'etat that put in place an authoritarian dictatorship in 1984 that lasted until 2005, and a 'border war' with neighbouring Senegal in 1989 that has been termed an excuse for genocide against a particular black ethnic group (an interpretation with which I agree). I have done some twenty cases/appeals in the same number of years - most related to that last 'war'. That said, for various reasons, the number of cases annually has increased recently.
Personal Interests: other than being ‘Mom’ to two now grown sons, I own and ride a horse named Holly. She is Canadian born (Saskatchewan) of Dutch/Belgium warmblood breeding; she (like her owner) is aging but still active – she is 16 in 2018. I ride English and compete when I can in Hunter-Jumper competitions. Holly pretty much takes up all my non-teaching, non-researching, non-administrating time – and then some.