Modern African History, DRCongo, Central Africa/Great Lakes, health and healing in Africa, African religion, violence, gender.
Assistant Professor | World History
Nicole Eggers’ research interests include 20th-21st Century Congolese history, health and healing, refugees, and religion and politics in Central Africa. Her first book, Unruly Ideas: A History of Kitawala in Congo (Ohio University Press, 2023) follows the history of the influential religious movement Kitawala from its colonial beginnings in the 1920s to its present-day influence in some of the most conflicted parts of Eastern Congo. The study highlights practitioners of Kitawala as intellectuals and innovators and considers broad theoretical questions about how they have historically drawn on and reformulated practices of spiritual and social healing in times of upheaval, creating a historically situated framework for understanding how they and their communities have experienced and understood power and violence. In the process, the book engages a number of fields of inquiry: health and healing, violence and power, religion and rebellion, intersections of gender and power, colonial incarceration, prayer and spiritual agency, and nationalism and the post-colonial imagination.
Eggers’ second book, tentatively titled Refuge in the Spirit: Religion in the Lives of Congolese Refugees, is a collaborative project centered around oral histories of Congolese refugee communities. For this project, Eggers and her collaborator, Dr. Roger Alfani, are investigating the significance of religion at different junctures of the Congolese refugee experience. With funding from an NEH Collaborative Grant, they have conducted interviews among Congolese refugees living in refugee camps in Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi, as well as among those who have left the camps to be resettled in Knoxville. The project seeks to illuminate how religion has functioned both as a space for building community for people who have lost their social safety net, as well as its role in addressing gaps — material, social, psychological, and spiritual — that state and international organizations too often neglect. Central to their investigation is the question of how people connect their experiences of social and physical security and insecurity to their understandings of spiritual security and insecurity. They argue that in-depth study of the religious lives of refugees is inherently valuable as a form of social and intellectual history that illuminates the complex inner lives and communal connections of people who are frequently viewed exclusively through the lens of trauma and crisis.
In the classroom, Dr. Eggers is dedicated to teaching students how to ask evocative questions, think critically, and write effectively. One of her main goals is to teach students to reevaluate what they think they know about Africa and the study of history by introducing them to historical methods and narratives that highlight African experiences and voices. Dr. Eggers encourages active and creative student engagement with course themes and materials – both within and outside of the classroom – and strives to teach students that even when they are learning about places and peoples that are perhaps unfamiliar, they can learn to become critical consumers and producers of knowledge.
Unruly Ideas: A History of Kitawala in Congo. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2023.
Nicole Eggers, Jessica Lynne Pearson, and Aurora Almada e Santos (eds.), The United Nations and Decolonization. New York: Routlege, 2020.
“Authority that is Customary: Kitawala, Customary Chiefs, and the Plurality of Power in Congolese History,” Journal of East African History, 14:1, 2020, 24-42.
“Remembering COLAGREL: Space, Memory, and Oral History.” https://copperbelt.history.ox.ac.uk/2019/11/19/remembering-colagrel-space-memory-and-oral-history-nicole-eggers/
“Black Bodies, State Violence, and Covid-19: Lessons from Congo” https://history.utk.edu/black-bodies-state-violence-and-covid-19-lessons-from-congo/?fbclid=IwAR3A-XSEMi3vsdVgtGWOTjb76-DxTLNIOeH-KxTJDfyWdnLL-R6dHDoRu1g
“Mukombozi and the Monganga: The Violence of Healing in the 1944 Kitawalist Uprising”, in Africa vol. 85, no. 3 (August 2015), 417-436.