The primary focus of her scholarship has been women's social and economic history in Nigeria.
selected publications listing
Her first book The Bluest Hands: A Social and Economic History of Women Indigo Dyers in Western Nigeria, 1890-1940
(Heinemann:African Social History Series, 2002), examined the indigo dyeing industry in Abeokuta, a Yoruba town in western Nigeria. Byfield has published a number of articles on dress, marriage and divorce, and nationalism. She has received a number of grants and fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship (2002), a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship (2003), and National Humanities Center Fellowship (2007-2008) for her current project, “The Great Upheaval”: The Egba Women's Tax Revolt: Gender and Nationalist Politics in Nigeria, 1945-1954
She has been Co-convener of the Women's Caucus of the African Studies Association
, Chair of the Association of African Studies Programs, and a member of the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association. Currently, she is on the editorial board of the Journal of African History and the Indiana University Press series Blacks in the Diaspora.
She obtained her BA in African and African American studies and Education from Dartmouth College in 1980, and her MA 1983, M Phil 1984, and PhD 1993 from Columbia University where she focused on African and Caribbean histories and cultures.