Rhiannon Stephens

Rhiannon Stephens is Professor of History at Columbia University. She specializes in the history of precolonial and early colonial East Africa from the first millennium CE through the twentieth century. Her research focuses on gender, economic difference, and political organization. She has written on the history of motherhood and its intersection with politics and economics in precolonial Uganda. Her new book, Poverty and Wealth in East Africa: A Conceptual History (Duke University Press, 2022), traces the history of poverty and wealth as economic and social concepts in Uganda over the past two thousand years. Most recently, her research has turned to engaging with historical climate change and how East African communities responded to the challenges and opportunities it posed. At Columbia, she is a faculty affiliate at the Earth Institute, the Institute of African Studies, the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. Her work has been published in The American Historical Review, The Journal of African History, Past & Present, and the African Studies Review.

Rhiannon Stephens co-leads the Environmental Sciences and Humanities Research Cluster and serves as an Executive Committee Member.