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Mattie Christine Webb

Historian || Writer || Teacher 


I am a social and political historian of the United States and southern Africa in the twentieth century. Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Associate and Kissinger Visiting Scholar with International Security Studies (ISS) at Yale University's Jackson School of Global Affairs.


I earned my Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2023. Since 2021, I have been an Affiliate Scholar with Rhodes University's Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) in South Africa. Interested in policy-driven research, I am also an International Policy Scholar Consortium and Network (IPSCON) Fellow with Johns Hopkins University (SAIS). My research sits at the nexus of transnational labor movements, Black internationalism, African studies, and U.S. foreign policy, and has been generously funded by a Fulbright Fellowship, a Boren Fellowship, and various other grants.


My book project, Diplomacy at Work: South African Labor, U.S. Multinationals, and Transnational Racial Solidarity (1971-1987), presents a new social and political history of the anti-apartheid movement, placing South African workers at the center of global narratives of labor and race in international relations. Based on an examination of extensive oral histories and multilingual archival materials from the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa, Diplomacy at Work probes the intersection of U.S. corporate governance and South African labor movements in the late apartheid era. It challenges existing late-Cold War narratives of a weakened South African-led anti-apartheid movement and a decline in trade union strength on a global scale. Workers held multinational corporations in South Africa accountable to reform and pressed the bounds of what was possible. Unions provided a critical space through which workers could leverage international working class connections as a means to ultimately transform the workplace and dismantle the apartheid system. Labor activism was instrumental in both challenging corporate complacency in apartheid, holding management accountable to anti-apartheid reform, and bringing down apartheid both in the workplace and beyond.

As a public historian, I am also spearheading an oral history archives project based predominantly in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, which includes numerous interviews with South African workers, trade unionists, and anti-apartheid activists. Working with NALSU as well as archivists at the University of the Western Cape and Fort Hare University, I am preparing my interviews for donation.


I also hold a master’s degree in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I wrote my thesis on economic sanctions as a tool to promote regime change, with a specific focus on the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. I received my BA summa cum laude in History from North Carolina State University in 2014. 

Beyond my academic work, I am a competitive long distance runner. I was a Division I Track & Field and Cross Country athlete throughout my BA and MA programs, competing for both North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I've wedded this interest with my research in South Africa, where I volunteer with a local running after school program for rural South African youth. I'll be running South Africa's historically-significant Comrades Ultra-Marathon in June 2024.

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I am primarily based in New Haven, Connecticut and am currently available for speaking engagements, collaborative work, and guest lectures. I sometimes split time between the United States and South Africa.


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