Meghan Healy-Clancy


Meghan Healy-Clancy is an Assistant Professor of History at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where she teaches African and world history. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Du Bois Institute at Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and she serves on the Program Coordinating Committee for the North Eastern Workshop on Southern Africa. She holds a Ph.D. in African Studies (2011) and an A.M. in History (2007) from Harvard, and an A.B. in History (2005) from the University of Chicago.

Healy-Clancy is a committed and creative teacher-scholar, who especially enjoys working with BSU's many future public educators. Healy-Clancy teaches the core curriculum course on World History since 1500, as well as upper-level courses in African history: The Making of Modern Africa; Africa in the Medieval and Early Modern World; Gender in African History; African Cities; Southern African History; and Apartheid and the Anti-Apartheid Movement. In January 2017, she co-led an interdisciplinary study abroad course in Durban and Cape Town: History, Memory, and Democracy in South Africa. In spring 2017, she served as the interim coordinator for BSU's interdisciplinary programs in Women's and Gender Studies and GLBT Studies. Before coming to Bridgewater, Healy-Clancy was a postdoctoral lecturer in Harvard's program in Social Studies (2011-2015), with co-appointments in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (2013-2015) and History and Literature (2011-2014). There she developed several interdisciplinary courses on African and global history, and she advised a dozen senior honors thesis projects. She also taught the research methods and writing seminar in the Harvard Extension School, where she enjoyed working with diverse, often non-traditional students. Her teaching and advising at Harvard were recognized with several prizes, including the university-wide Star Prize for Excellence in Advising in 2015, and her students have gone on to careers including teaching, writing, research, public service, law, medicine, and business.

Healy-Clancy's research and writing examine gender, race, and the politics of culture in South Africa, drawing upon diverse archival, print, and oral historical sources. Her first book, A World of Their Own: A History of South African Women's Education (Reconsiderations in Southern African History Series, University of Virginia Press), examines southern Africa's oldest secondary school for black girls, the Inanda Seminary outside of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, from its 1869 founding through the democratic transition in 1994. Previous studies of black South African educational history have focused overwhelmingly on student protest politics, often focusing on young men's leadership of school boycotts during segregation and apartheid. Through Inanda's story, the book provides the first history of South African education focused on young women's experiences, demonstrating how generations used their training as teachers and health workers to challenge their society's narrow expectations of black women. With anthropologist Jason Hickel, she is also the co-editor of Ekhaya: The Politics of Home in KwaZulu-Natal (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press). Both of these books came out in 2014; a South African edition of A World of Their Own came out in 2013, also with the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Her subsequent research has focused on women's activism in African nationalist and anti-apartheid politics, challenging an historiographic tradition that has marginalized women. She has been particularly interested in how women invoked familial discourses, such as public motherhood, which made their activism meaningful historically but also confusing to historians. Her most significant publication from this line of research won the Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship from Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society in 2017. Previous work on similar themes has appeared in publications including African Studies Review (2014) and South African Historical Journal (2012); the latter article was recently included in The ANC and the Liberation Struggle in South Africa: Essential Writings, ed. Thula Simpson (Routledge, 2017).

Most recently, she has been examining the cultural front of the global anti-apartheid movement, in which women played central (but again, often historiographically underestimated) roles. An early article from this line of research is forthcoming in African Studies in 2019.