UMass Boston

Heidi Gengenbach

Department Chairman
McCormack Hall Floor 04


Heidi Gengenbach joined the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2013 after over a decade of research, teaching, and consulting in the field of African agricultural, livelihood, and gender history. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in African History at SUNY Buffalo, Harvard, Brown, and the University of Minnesota; she also taught Africa-themed seminars in the writing program at Boston University for two years.

Area of Expertise

The social and environmental history of Africa, especially southern and eastern Africa; gender, food, and agrarian livelihoods; colonial and post-colonial nutrition science; histories of humanitarian intervention; and oral history


MA (Humanitarian Assistance), Tufts University, 2013

PhD (History), University of Minnesota, 1999

BA (History), University of Toronto, 1986

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Associate Professor Gengenbach's doctoral dissertation, an interdisciplinary study of rural women’s oral and artefactual forms of history-telling in post-civil war Mozambique, received the Gutenberg-e Electronic Book Prize from the American Historical Association, and was published as an e-book by Columbia University Press in 2005. Her consulting work arises from a commitment to approaching African history both as an academic endeavor and as an important source of applied knowledge for Africa’s present development challenges and policy concerns. Most recently, she served as academic partner for a Gates Foundation-funded project with the Global Fund for Women, supporting the agricultural and food security programming of grassroots women’s groups in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Uganda. In other chapters of her career, she has worked for local nonprofits focused on organic farming, hunger relief, youth mentoring, and legal advocacy for abused and neglected children.

She is currently working on two projects. For one, a collaborative interdisciplinary project funded by a 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation, she will investigate the nutritional consequences of women farmers’ participation in an ongoing donor-funded program to commercialize cassava production in Inhambane Province, southern Mozambique. The second is a historical book project tentatively titled Recipes for Disaster: Gender, Hunger, and the Unmaking of an Agrarian Food World in Central Mozambique, 1500-2000.