In Memoriam: Katherine Payne Moseley, former SSA board member

14 October 2012

From: Rosemary Galli

Katherine Payne Moseley (KP Moseley) passed away peacefully on 4 October 2012 at her Vermont home. Her oft-quoted study with Immanuel Wallerstein on precapitalist social structures initiated a long list of publications on the Trans-Saharan trade, the political economy of West Africa including Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and most recently the economic and social history of the larger oases band of the northern Sahara edge that includes Morocco and Mauritania. Kay also actively promoted water and other environmental issues as represented by her paper “Development or Ecological Suicide? Dilemmas of Water Exploitation in the Sahara.” A Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University, she did her fieldwork in Dahomey, and taught at Fourah Bay College (Sierra Leone), the University of Port Hartcourt (Nigeria), as well as Vanderbilt, Brooklyn College and several other US universities. From 2000-2006 Kay worked as a Foreign Service Officer and served in Chad, the Sudan and Mauritania. She was a Director on the board of a number of nongovernmental agencies including the Asian Scholar Fund. She is remembered by family and friends for her warmth, sense of fun, wit, love of jazz, African rhythms and music in general, generosity, hospitality, openness and elegance. She lives vividly in our memory.

From: Maimouna (

Katherine Moseley, Kate pour les amis, était une femme douce, agréable, joyeuse, qui avait servi en Mauritanie comme consul à l’Ambassade des USA.

A sa retraite, elle partagea son temps entre son pays et la Mauritanie. Elle venait régulièrement à Nouakchott rencontrer ses nombreux amis, partager avec eux leur quotidien, leurs projets, leurs rêves …

Elle fréquentait assidument la bibliothèque de l’IFM, les centres de documentation du Ceros et du RESA, à la recherche de documentation pour ses travaux de recherche sur l’eau dans l’Adrar. Elle aimait aller à la Guetna de Tidkikja, d’Atar, rencontrer les populations, partageant avec eux leurs joies et peines …

Elle était à Vermont ce mardi, lorsqu’elle fût atteinte d’une rupture d’anévrisme. Elle nous quitta ce Vendredi sans avoir repris connaissance.

Que la terre lui soit légère.

Inna Lillah Wa Inna Ileyhi Rajioun.



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