My scholarship explores how Africans have transformed their understanding of time after the colonial encounter, and what consequences these changes had for local societies, politics, and culture.
I examine these consequences in several projects. Currently, I’m transforming my dissertation “Branches of Memory: Colonialism and the Making of the Historical Imagination in Namibia and Tanzania, 1914-1969”, which I defended in August 2022 at Princeton University, into a book manuscript. The book will compare how African societies in Namibia and Tanzania recalled colonization by Germany (1884-1918) after its end in the First World War with remembrance practices in other former German colonies (Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Togo) as well as the experiences of inhabitants of other former European dependencies to ascertain in what ways remembering colonialism shaped the trajectory of these countries towards self-determination and the emergence of restorative justice politics.
I have also begun work on two other book-length studies. One will investigate the role of prophets, religion and subaltern archives in the decolonization of Namibia from the nineteenth century to the end of apartheid in 1990. The other turns to the ways in which African and South Asian traders drove a commercial revolution in German-ruled Tanzania between the late nineteenth century and the First World War.
My research combines analysis of traditional historical archives with oral history interviews in Otjiherero and Swahili and participant observation of commemorations and performances.
I have worked in governmental and non-governmental archives in Germany, Namibia, Tanzania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I am fluent in Swahili and speak and understand basic Otjiherero.
While rooted in African history, my scholarship seeks to encourage new perspectives on Africa through cross-disciplinary collaborations that speak to wider themes in the humanities and social sciences. Together with Sakiru Adebayo (Vancouver), Nancy Rushohora (Dar es Salaam), and Hanna Teichler (Frankfurt), I am editing the volume on Africa in Brill’s new Handbook Series in Memory Studies. You can learn more about the series here and check out our Call for Submissions here. Bringing together senior and junior scholars from fields ranging from anthropology and history to politics, the handbook will provide a much-needed synthesis to key concepts, theories, and debates in the interdisciplinary study of African memory cultures and practices.