The Ph.D Program: African History

Emory University's History Department has one of the top African history Ph.D. programs in the country. Our strengths lie in providing students excellent training in African history, outstanding opportunities for comparative study in a number of complementary fields and disciplines, and a broad and deep foundation in African Studies through Emory's internationally-recognized Institute of African Studies. Close student-faculty interaction and strong student morale and comradeship in history and with teachers and peers in African Studies are hallmarks of our program.

Students entering Emory University in African history work closely with a number of faculty and participate in the Institute of African Studies. Mariana Candido specializes in West Central African history, 1500-1880s. Her research interests include forced migrations, slavery and slave trade, colonialism, gender and economic history. Candido published work examines the economic, social, and political impact of the transatlantic slave trade in Angola. Her single authored books, articles, as well as edited volumes stress the role of Africans, particularly African women, as historical agents. Clifton Crais is interested in Southern Africa, state formation and political culture, violence and inequality, history and anthropology, and comparative empire and world history. His works include The Politics of Evil, Poverty, War, and Violence in South Africa, and Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: A Ghost Story and a Biography (co-written with Pamela Scully). Tehila Sasson, whose research includes imperialism, decolonization and internationalism. Pamela Scully’s (Women's Studies and also a faculty member in the Institute of African Studies) most recent work centers on human rights and gender-based violence in post-conflict societies. Scully also has a biography of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf coming out soon. Graduate students typically work with other Emory Africanists such as Bayo Holsey (West Africa and African Diaspora; Director of Institute for African Studies), Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi (Francophone West Africa), Peter Little (East Africa), Kristin Phillips (East Africa), Nathan Suhr-Sytsma (West Africa), Ana Teixeira (Lusophone Africa), and Subha Xavier (Francophone West Africa).

African history Ph.D. students take required courses in African Historiography and Research Methods in African History, as well as topical courses that vary annually and are shaped by student needs and faculty interests. Students in addition have superb opportunities to pursue collateral training in Atlantic World history and anthropology, as well as on women and gender, race and ethnicity, development, and art and literature. Importantly, African history students participate in the Institute of African Studies Research Seminar and in workshops and conferences and other activities within the institute. 

Students typically conduct pre-dissertation research in Africa in the summers following their first and second years. Preliminary examinations occur in the third year, followed by dissertation research. Students offer a chapter from their dissertation to the research seminar in the Institute of African Studies, and present the completed work in a public dissertation defense.

Our students have garnered prestigious Fulbright, Rockefeller, SSRC, and other fellowships, and they have secured excellent academic positions in a competitive marketplace. Recent and current students work on topic such as environmental struggles in Namibia, migrant labor between Zimbabwe and South Africa, humanitarian intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, domestic workers and the political imagination in Tanzania, ethnicity and the Angolan slave trade, women and the politics of ujaama, politics of land in late colonial Kenya, children and labor in French West Africa, development and chieftaincy in South Africa, and post-conflict Uganda. Graduates have pursued distinguished careers and garnered many fellowships and awards, including a 2013 MacArthur Award.

Recent Graduate Students

Graduation Year PhD Recipient Dissertation Title
2022 Madelyn Stone "Sovereignty Work: Policing Colonial Capitalism in South Africa, 1867–1936"
2019 Abigail Meert "Suffering, Struggle, and the Politics of Legitimacy in Uganda, 1962-1996"
2018 Ashley N. Parcells "Ethnic Sovereignty and the Making of a Zulu Homeland in Apartheid South Africa"
2016 Jessica Catherine Reuther "Borrowed Children, Entrusted Girls: Legal Encounters with Girlhood in French West Africa, c. 1900 - 1941"
2014 Kara Alexandra Moskowitz "From Possibility to Postcolony: The Politics of Decolonization, Development, and Inequality in Kenya (c. 1950-1980)"
2014 Jill Robyn Rosenthal "From 'Migrants' to 'Refugees': Humanitarian Aid, Development, and Nationalism in Ngara District, Tanzania, 1940-2000"
2013 Husseina Dinani "En-gendering the Postcolony: Women, Citizenship and Development in Tanzania, 1945-1985"
2013 Jacqueline Audrey Gold "Moving Images: India on British Screens, 1917-1947"
2013 Leonardo Marques "The United States and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas, 1776-1867"
2013 Molly Leigh McCullers "Lines in the Sand: The Global Politics of Local Development in Apartheid-Era Namibia, 1950-1980"
2013 Sunandan Kizhakke Nedumpally "Ways of Knowing: Asaris, Nampoothiris, and Colonialists in Twentieht-Century Malabar, India"
2013 Robyn Allyce Pariser "Houseboy: Domestic Service and the Making of Colonial Dar es Salaam, 1919-1961"
2012 Francis Musoni "With an Apron in the Caboose: Illegal Migration across the Zimbabwe-South Africa Border"
2011 Alex Borucki "From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in Montevideo, 1770-1850"
2011 Daniel B. Domingues da Silva "Crossroads: Slave Frontiers of Angola, c.1780-1867"
2010 Katherine Fidler "Rural Cosmopolitanism and Peasant Insurgency: The Pondoland Revolt, South Africa (1958-1963)"
2010 Jane Hooper "An Empire in the Indian Ocean: The Sakalava Empire of Madagascar"
2009 Philip R. Misevich "'Freedom:' Abolition and the Transformation of Atlantic Commerce in Southern Sierra Leone, 1790s to 1860s"
2009 Jeremy Pool "Now is the Time of Youth: Youth, Nationalism, and Cultural Change in Ghana, 1940-1966"
2008 Assefa B. Negwo "Church-Based Healing and the State in Ethiopia, 1900-1980"
2008 John C. Willis "Masquerading Politics: Power and Transformation in a West African Kingdom"
2007 Andrea Arrington "Power, Culture, and Colonial Development around Victoria Falls, 1880-1910"
2007 Kate McGrath "Medieval Anger: Rage and Outrage in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman and Northern French Historical Narratives"
2004 Rebecca Shumway "Between the Caste and the Golden Stool: Transformations in Fante Society in the 18th Century"
2003 Patrick Mbajekwe "Land, Social Change and Urban Development in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, 1857-1960"
2001 Julie Livingston "Long ago we were still walking when we died: disability, aging, and the moral imagination in Southeastern Botswana, c. 1930-1999"