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John Aerni-Flessner

John Aerni-Flessner

Assistant Professor of African History

John Aerni-Flessner is a historian of 20th century Africa, specializing in the history of Lesotho and the history of the Lansing area.

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Area of Expertise

Urban Renewal in Lansing Decolonization Development History Lesotho Southern African History Borders in Africa Malcolm X in Lansing


Aerni-Flessner is a historian of 20th century African history, specializing in the history of Lesotho. His research focuses on how people grappled with the idea of independence in mid-20th century Africa, and how they came to terms with their changing relations to the state during the decolonization process. He studies big ideas like nationalism, slavery, sport/leisure and development. Aerni-Flessner's first book examines the relationship between development and independence in Lesotho. It also looks ... at transnational aid flows and how resistance to apartheid manifested in states surrounding South Africa.

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Washington University in St. Louis: Ph.D., African and World History

Washington University in St. Louis: M.A.,

Grinnell College: B.A., History

Selected Press

Mayor Schor Announces "Paving the Way" Research and Documentation Project

Lansing | 2018-11-29

Mayor Andy Schor today announced that the City of Lansing has been awarded a $39,400 grant from the National Parks Service to tell the story of the impact of the construction of I-496 on Lansing’s vibrant African American community. The community was centered on Main Street (now Malcolm X Street) and St. Joseph Street between Washington Avenue and Clare Street, prior to being displaced due the project.

Malcolm X's daughter Ilyasah Shabazz to speak at MSU Thursday

Lansing State Journal | 2017-10-11

Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of civil rights leader Malcolm X, will speak at Michigan State University's Erickson Kiva, the same venue where her father delivered a speech to 700 students on Jan. 23, 1963.

Daughter of Malcolm X to Speak at MSU

MSU Today | 2017-10-10

The Michigan Humanities Council and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, along with Michigan State University’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, MSU Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions and MSU Student Affairs and Services are sponsoring an appearance by Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X.

The memory of Malcolm X lives on in Lansing | 2017-02-27

He was a controversial figure in the Civil Rights Movement after he was introduced to the world stage by Elijah Muhammad who appointed him to stand in as the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam.