Martha Lagace

Martha Lagace

Martha Lagace

Affiliate Faculty

Anthropology, Africa, African migration; African immigrants in New York City; immigration in Massachusetts. Mobility, youth, diaspora.

Dr. Martha Lagace is a broadly trained cultural anthropologist who is investigating issues of mobility and immobility, migration, technology, and their political ramifications over time. Her PhD research in northern Uganda and more recent research about the New York African diaspora considers how people maintain attachment to places that have long seen conflict and war. With colleagues at The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc., in Malden, Massachusetts, she has also studied how immigrants in Massachusetts cope with climate change. 

With Jens Meierhenrich (London School of Economics), Dr. Lagace has conducted field research into dozens of genocide memorials in Rwanda. They created "Through a Glass Darkly: Genocide Memorials in Rwanda 1994-2008," an interactive website with photographs and vignettes.

Current Research

Dr. Lagace is currently preparing an illustrated creative-nonfiction account of migratory links across the Atlantic Ocean between Liberia and New York City, especially links between the Kru coast, Monrovia, and Staten Island, where many Liberian war refugees settled beginning around 1994. The project explores issues of mobility justice (Sheller), and aims to illuminate the interplay of agency and conscription in a particular context.

Lagace is also revising her doctoral research about northern Uganda for a book manuscript titled Ninthborn. She studied male Ugandan youth who self-identify as farmers yet rely on motorcycle-taxi driving to support their families. Northern Uganda suffered a violent insurgency between 1986 and 2006, and the manuscript explores how motorcycle-taxi driving has become a key path, albeit a dangerous one, for young men to achieve social adulthood. The book in progress lays bare the movement, pathways, and lifeblood of Gulu town where they live and congregate. By focusing on the motorcycle-taxi drivers, Lagace is able to probe “modern” concerns such as urban development through the experiences of people recovering from war. The drivers’ continual experience of political and economic violence does not allow them to benefit from “progress,” but they engage with it on their own terms, using motion to reinvent masculinity that includes aspirations to raise a family and reweave frayed lines of kinship. 

Selected Publications


Lagace, Martha and Daniela Atanasova. 2023. “Across Landscapes of Hierarchy and Belonging: Social Meanings of Spatial Im/Mobility.” Special issue on mobilities and modern Africa. Stichproben: The Vienna Journal of African Studies 44.

Author and Co-Author:

Lagace, Martha. 2023. “Keyword: The Bush.” African Studies Review 66 (1): 176–202.

Lagace, Martha and Daniela Atanasova. 2023. “Introduction.” Special issue on mobilities. Stichproben: The Vienna Journal of African Studies 44.

Lagace, Martha. 2016. “Paula Hirsch Foster: Anthropology and Land Tensions in Acholiland, 1954 – 1958.” Journal of Peace and Security Studies 2 (1): 75–83.

Meierhenrich, Jens and Martha Lagace. 2013. “Tropes of Memory: Memorialization of Rwanda’s Genocide.” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 4 (2): 289–312. 

Book reviews:

2020. Review of Richard J. Reid, A History of Modern Uganda, Cambridge University Press. H-AFRICA, January 2020

2020. Review of Laura Eramian, Peaceful Selves: Personhood, Nationhood, and the Post-Conflict Moment in Rwanda, Berghahn. Conflict & Society, October

2020. Review of Lindsey B. Green-Simms, Postcolonial Automobility: Car Culture in West Africa, UMinnesota Press. H-AFRICA, June 2020

2019. Review of Mariane C. Ferme, Out of War: Violence, Trauma, and the Political Imagination in Sierra Leone, University of California Press. Conflict & Society, October

2018. Review of Holly Porter, After Rape: Violence, Justice, and Social Harmony in Uganda, Cambridge University Press. Conflict & Society, October

2017. Review of Evelyn Amony and Erin Baines, I Am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming My Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army. University of Wisconsin Press. International Journal of African Historical Studies, Book Reviews 50 (3): 536-537

Peer Reviews: 

Cambridge University Press, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Disasters Journal, Law & Society ReviewJournal of Genocide Research, International Journal of Transitional Justice, Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society



Grants and Fellowships

American Council of Learned Societies Leading Edge Fellowship, January 2021 – March 2022 

Graduate Teaching Fellowship, Boston University, 2017 – 2018.

Moorman-Simon Civic Fellowship, Boston University, 2015 – 2017.

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, 2015. 


Ph.D., Social and Cultural Anthropology, Boston University, 2018. 

Graduate Certificate in African Studies (non-degree), Boston University, 2018.

Master of Liberal Arts (A.L.M.) in Anthropology and Archaeology, Harvard University Division of Continuing Education, 2008.

B.A., English and Communications, Simmons College, Boston, MA, 1984.