Ayodeji Adegbite

Email: aadegbite@wisc.edu

Advisor: Gregg Mitman

Ayodeji Adegbite headshot


My name is Ayodeji Adegbite, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology in the Department of History at the UW–Madison. My research interests include the history of medicine, science, global health, and the environment, with a focus on colonial and post-colonial Africa.

My dissertation, “Africa’s Biomedical Public,” examines the place of African medical practitioners in the development and institutionalization of biomedical knowledge in colonial and postcolonial West Africa, as well as the challenges African practitioners posed to Western scientific framings and understandings of health and illness in Africa. I show that the line between African traditional healing practices and “Western biomedicine” was one of continual negotiation and adaptation. African medical practitioners worked with as well as challenged African traditional healers and colonial medical authorities, leading toward new understandings of health and the creation of what I call an African biomedical public—a new generation of Africans who appropriated practices of modern biomedicine and utilized them toward their own ends. My project explores Nigeria as a site of colonial, international, and global health interventions to illuminate the entangled history and evolution of an African biomedical public. This research entails a focus on medical research laboratories, international health organizations, and understandings of disease and their environments (including smallpox, blackwater fever, malaria, yellow fever, cerebrospinal meningitis, hepatitis B, Lassa fever, tuberculosis, and schistosomiasis) from the colonial to postcolonial period. African medical practitioners who merged elements of public healing and biomedical knowledge politicized the laboratory and medical college and challenged colonial authorities and foreign pharmaceutical companies over the production, distribution, and access to vaccines to secure African health.


M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A., University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
B.A., University of Ilorin, Nigeria.


  • History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
  • African History

MA Title

  • “The Historical Epidemiology and Racial Geographies of Yellow Fever in West Africa 1800 – 1920”

Working Dissertation Title

  • “Africa’s Biomedical Public: African Medical Practitioners in the Environment, Politics and Science of Disease Control in Africa.”

Selected Publications

  • “Securitizing Zoonotic Diseases for Nigeria’s National Security in the Aftermath of Covid 19,” Democracy & Development: Journal of West African Affairs, 7 (2023)
  • “One in heart as they are in tongue”: Language, Cosmology, and Environmental Violence in South-Western, Nigeria,” in The Environmental Humanities of Extraction, edited by James Ogude and Tafadzwa Mushonga, (New York: Routledge, 2023).
  • Community Reactions: #EndSARS“, African Studies Program Blog (October 2020)

Selected Awards

  • Coleman Dissertation Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities (2023)
  • Department Dissertation Fellowship, Department of History (2021 -2022, 2024)
  • Summer Travel Award, Department of History (2021, 2023)
  • Graduate School Travel Support (2021, 2023)
  • Ebrahim Hussein Fellowship (2021)
  • Holtz Center Grant, Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies (2018 – 2019, 2021)

Professional Affiliations

  • Lagos Studies Association
  • Historical Society of Nigeria
  • American Historical Association
  • Nigerian Health Historians Network
  • African Network of Environmental Humanities
  • African Observatory for Humanities for the Environment
  • African Studies Association
  • Historical Society of Nigeria

Courses Taught as TA

  • History of Science/Environmental Studies 213: Global Environmental Health (2021, 2022)