Ghislaine Lydon

A photo of Ghislaine Lydon
E-mail: Phone: 310-825-4214 Office: Bunche Hall 7248

Associate Professor

Fields of Interest: Global Economies and Networks, African Economies, Literacy and Paper Economies, Women’s Rights


  • PhD, History, Michigan State University
  • BA, African Studies, McGill University


I am currently finalizing a book manuscript entitled “Paper Economies of Africa and their Relevance to World History.” This work examines the place of literacy in the organization of African economies, from Antiquity to the mid-fifteenth century. This is a broad synthesis that begins with a reflection on the place of paper in world history, and goes on to consider how commercial literacy and legal institutions shaped what I call ‘paper economies.’

My next projects include a study of the evolution of women’s rights in Muslim Africa, and the second volume of my first book on the organization of trans-Saharan caravan trade, focused on the twentieth century.


Selected Publications

  • “Paper Intruments in Early African Economies and the Debated Role of the Suftaja.” Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 236:4 (2019).
  • “Inscribing the Now and the Hereafter: First Writings in Early African History.” In Toby Green & Benedetta Rossi (Eds.), Landscapes, Sources and Intellectual Projects in the West African Past (Brill, 2018).
  • “Inventions and Re-Inventions of “Sharia” in Recent African History.” Ufahamu 40:1 (2018).
  • Lydon and Bruce Hall, “Excavating Arabic Sources for the Writing on Slavery in Western African History.” In Martin Klein, Sandra Green and Alice Bellagamba (Eds.), African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade: Essays on Sources and Methods (New York, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, March 2016), 3-49.
  • “Oceans and Bridges, Barriers and Divides in Africa’s Historiographical Landscape.” Journal of African History 56:1 (2015), 3-22.
  • The ‘Hidden Transcripts’ and Rights of Slaves in the Muslim World: A Legal Case from Nineteenth-Century Mauritania” In Martin Klein, Sandra Green and Alice Bellagamba (Eds.), African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade: The Sources (New York, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 500-10.