Carnegie Mellon University

Joe Trotter

Joe William Trotter Jr.

Director and Founder, CAUSE

  • Baker Hall 246C
  • 412-268-2875
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Bio

Joe William Trotter, Jr. is Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice and past History Department Chair at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is also the Director and Founder of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE). Professor Trotter received his BA degree from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. 

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Evie Jean

Evie Jean

Program Coordinator

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Bio

Ms. Evie Jean provides administrative and clerical support for Joe W. Trotter in his capacity as a faculty member of the Department of History and as the director of CAUSE. In addition, she maintains records, files, and databases, provides research support, and assists in the preparation of manuscripts for publication. She coordinates and assists with publicity of conferences, speaker engagements, and the CAUSE Lecture Series. 
She is a graduate of the University of Wroclaw (Poland), where she received a BA degree in Adult Education and Social Marketing.
 

Halimat Somotan

Halimat Somotan

Postdoctoral Fellow, CAUSE

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Baker Hall 242C
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Bio

Dr. Halimat Somotan is a scholar of colonial and postcolonial Africa specializing in the histories of cities and urban planning. Her teaching interests include the history of housing, decolonization, and African cities. Her current book project, Decolonizing the City: Popular Politics and the Making of Postcolonial Lagos, examines how ordinary Lagosians experienced and contested Nigeria’s transition from colonial rule to independence. It shows how landlords, tenants, and female traders challenged and sought to reform governmental policies concerning slum clearance, rent control, state land acquisition, and sanitation. The manuscript argues that Lagosians went beyond supporting nationalist movements but consistently pushed for urban reforms under both civilian and military regimes to ensure their longevity in the city and improve urban policies. The research has implications for understanding contemporary megacity urban development and residents’ everyday challenges against displacement.


Somotan’s committed to excavating unknown voices in order to show the competing approaches undertaken by individuals and collectives to create different futures. Therefore, she draws on wide-ranging sources from oral interviews, newspapers, petitions, Yoruba songs, to novels. She’s currently preparing part of her research for publication in historical journals, which will highlight the popular voices that challenged urban displacement in late colonial Lagos.


Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria, Somotan received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2020. Before arriving at CMU, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate/Lecturer at Princeton University, where she co-taught an African Studies course and co-organized the African Urbanism (s) Series. Her research has been funded by organizations such as the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, the University of Virginia, the Council on Library and Information, and the Mellon Foundation.

Ezelle Sanford

Ezelle Sanford

Postdoctoral Fellow, CAUSE

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Bio

Dr. Ezelle Sanford III earned his Ph.D. in History and History of Science from Princeton University in 2019.  He specializes in the history of modern medicine and public health, African American history from emancipation to the present, and twentieth-century United States history.

His scholarship sits at the intersection of African American, medical, and urban histories. He is particularly interested in histories of race, science, and medicine from the 19th century to the present.  He is currently working on a book project, Segregated Medicine: How Racial Politics Shaped American Healthcare, which utilizes the case of St. Louis’s Homer G. Phillips Hospital, America’s largest segregated hospital in the mid-twentieth century, to trace how the logic and legacy of racial segregation established structures of healthcare inequality that persist to this day. His work has been featured in popular and academic publications and has received several fellowships and awards.