Graduate students

The University of Michigan is one of the world’s premier sites for training in African history. Michigan’s program is distinctive for the breadth and depth of the training that doctoral students receive. Core faculty in the field include Rudolph Ware, who works on Islam and slavery in precolonial Africa. Professor Emeritus David William Cohen, one of the architects of the field, plays an active role in Michigan’s intellectual community. Several faculty members work on North Africa in various time periods, among them Joshua ColeJuan ColeHussein Fancy, and Ian MoyerBrandi Hughes works on the history of African-Americans’ engagements with Africa. Farina Mir and Mrinalini Sinha study the relationship between eastern and southern Africa and the world of the Indian Ocean.

Michigan’s Africa scholars encourage doctoral students to learn vernacular languages and engage in long-term fieldwork. The student-led African History and Anthropology Workshop (AHAW) is a fulcrum for intellectual life. Founded in 1997, it is a venue for training doctoral students in historical and ethnographic thinking and practice, and offers a forum for U-M and visiting scholars to share and debate precirculated works-in-progress in regular sessions.

Outside the History Department U-M offers many opportunities for students to enrich their study of Africa. The Department of Afro-American and African Studies offers a range of classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Its faculty include a number of distinguished Africa scholars: anthropologists Kelly Askew, Elisha Renne, Omolade Adunbi, Amal Fadlalla and Mike McGovern, politics scholars Adam Ashforth and Anne Pitcher, art historians David Doris and Ray Silverman, sociologist Martin Murray, literature scholars Fernando Arenas and Freida Ekotto, and economist Howard Stein. The African Studies Center, founded in 2008, coordinates the research that U-M scholars do in collaboration with African colleagues. The ASC annually hosts a cohort of 14 Africa-based scholars, who come to Ann Arbor for six months of sabbatical. The ASC also supports a series of academic conferences—in the humanities, the social sciences, and the hard sciences—that rotate between Michigan, Ghana, and South Africa. The Joint Program in Anthropology and History is an interdisciplinary training program for doctoral students. It is a lively and sociable space where students are encouraged to pursue questions that lie athwart conventional disciplinary boundaries.

At Cambridge and at Michigan Peterson has supervised doctoral students working in a range of fields: on African-run churches in South Africa, on Christianity and the Rwandan genocide, on the intellectual cultures of the Buganda kingdom, on pan-Africanism in Tanzania, on Zulu-language literature, on women and fashion history in Idi Amin’s Uganda, on mental asylums in the Gold Coast, and on urban reformism in socialist Mozambique. At the moment Peterson is supervisor or co-supervisor for six doctoral candidates and several pre-candidates at Michigan. Peterson has examined doctoral dissertations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of Oxford, the University of Durham, the University of Cambridge, and at several American universities.

The doctoral students with whom Peterson has worked as supervisor are listed here.

At the University of Cambridge

Joel Cabrita, Ph.D. (Divinity) 2008. ‘A Theological Biography of Isaiah Shembe, c. 1870-1935’. Currently University Lecturer in Divinity, University of Cambridge.

Published as Text and Authority in the South African Nazaretha Church (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Nicholas Godfrey, Ph.D. (Divinity) 2008. ‘Understanding Genocide: The Experience of Anglicans in Rwanda, c. 1921-2008’. Currently Director of Summer Programmes, Girton College, Cambridge.

Julie MacArthur, Ph.D. (History) 2010. ‘Mapping Political Community among the Luyia of Western Kenya, 1930-1963.’ Currently Assistant Professor in History, University of Toronto-Mississauga.

Published as Cartography and the Political Imagination: Mapping Political Community in Colonial Kenya (Ohio University Press, 2016).

Jon Earle, Ph.D. (History) 2012. ‘Political Theologies in Late Colonial Buganda’. Currently Assistant Professor in History, Centre College, Kentucky.

Published as Colonial Buganda the End of Empire: Political Thought and Historical Imagination in Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Ethan Sanders, Ph.D. (History) 2012. ‘The African Association and the Growth and Movement of Political Thought in Mid-Twentieth Century East Africa’. Currently Assistant Professor in History, Regius College, Colorado.

At the University of Michigan

Christopher Tounsel, Ph.D. (History) 2015. ‘Christianity, Race, and National Identity in Southern Sudan’. Currently Assistant Professor in History and Africana Studies, Pennsylvania State University.

Edgar Taylor, Ph.D. (Anthropology and History) 2015. ‘Histories of an Event: The Ugandan Asian Expulsion of 1972’. Co-supervised by Nancy Rose Hunt. Currently post-doctoral fellow, Center for Indian Studies in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa).

Emma Park, Ph.D. (History) 2017. ‘Infrastructural Attachments: Technologies, Mobility, and the Tensions of Home in Colonial and Postcolonial Kenya’. Co-supervised by Gabrielle Hecht.  Currently Assistant Professor, Department of History, The New School for Social Research.

Ashley Rockenbach, Ph.D. Candidate (History). ‘An Uncertain Order of Things: Mobility, Governance, and Citizenship at the Margins of the Ugandan State, 1945-1990’. Co-supervised by Pamela Ballinger. Currently writing fellow, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, University of Virginia.

Jonathan Shaw, Ph.D. Candidate (History). ‘Remembering Lions: The Simba Rebellion, Imagined Geographies, and the “Afterlives of Decolonization” in North Kivu, Congo (DRC), 1959-1973’. Currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, funded by the Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship program.

Benedito Machava, Ph.D. Candidate (History). ‘The Morality of Revolution: Urban Life, Moral Purity, and Citizenship in Socialist Mozambique, 1974-1988’. Co-supervised by Anne Pitcher. Currently A. Barlett Giamatti Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan.

Doreen Kembabazi, Ph.D. Candidate (History). ‘Beyond Control: Women, Youth and the Politics of Morality in 1970s Uganda’.

Nana Quarshie, Ph.D. Candidate (Anthropology and History). ‘Confining Foreign Lunatics: Diversity, Migration, and Psychiatry in West Africa, 1887-Present’. Currently in Ghana, funded by the Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship program.