Gregory Valdespino

2022-2024 Princeton-Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow

Princeton-Mellon / Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies Fellow

Gregory Valdespino is a scholar of domesticity, everyday life and governance in West Africa and the Francophone world, with special interests in Senegal and West African communities in France. His research examines Europe and Africa's entangled histories in the 19th and 20th century to understand historically changing definitions of and access to daily necessities. 

His manuscript, “Domestic Expectations: The Politics of Dwelling in France and Senegal, 1914-1974,” examines when, where and why West Africans came to expect domestic support from colonial and postcolonial governments in Senegal and France during the 20th century. Going from the outbreak of World War I to the mid-1970s, this project explains how West African dwellers and French officials engaged in the contested creation of a political framework that linked governmental legitimacy to West Africans' domestic well-being both in Senegal and France. Through extensive archival work and interviews in both Senegal and France, Valdespino demonstrates how this new ideological and practical framework informed competing ideas and practices around what governments could or should do to create spaces that people could call home. Calling this framework the “politics of dwelling,” Valdespino examines how access to domestic resources came to inform alternative notions of political participation and social obligations within Senegal and amongst West African communities in France before and after decolonization.

He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago and holds a B.A. in History from Stanford University. In Spring 2024, Valdespino will again teach “African Urban History,” where students will examine the history of African urban spaces and societies from the 13th century to the present to understand how African cities have shaped, and been shaped by, local and global historical forces. 

Valdespino's extended second year fellowship is made possible by the Mellon Foundation, the Program in African Studies, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.