I am from Shasta County in rural northern California, and arrived at UNLV from the University of California, where I earned a BA in Anthropology and History from Irvine, and a PhD in History from Berkeley. I also studied at King’s College, London, and was a visiting researcher at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge.
I am a historian of colonialism, decolonization, and nationhood in eastern and southern Africa. My research, drawing on archival work in Britain, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, explores environmental politics and tensions, and the broad meanings, experiences, and contestations of late-British colonialism, decolonization, and nation-making.
I have published work in the African Studies Review (2015) discussing how science and administration in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park were affected by decolonization and globalization, and in the Journal of British Studies (2018) exploring how the creation of a wildlife management training college in Tanzania exhibited elements of both change and continuity between the colonial and national eras.
My book, Wildlife between Empire and Nation in Twentieth-Century Africa (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), is a history of wildlife conservation in eastern and southern Africa spanning the periods of British colonial rule, decolonization, and the first decades of nationhood. I show that the colonial era left a lasting imprint on conservation regimes in Africa, but that colonial conservation was more complex than hitherto acknowledged, and that although the period began the process of militarizing conservation practice, African colonial subjects also exercised surprising agency in shaping and contesting colonial conservation. The book identifies strong continuities between colonial and national conservation ideas and structures but also argues that international conservation and scientific communities curtailed the abilities of African governments to manage their nations’ wildlife populations and protected areas.
I am currently working on a number of projects on different scales. My next book--in the very early stages of construction--is tentatively titled A Devil Somewhere in Africa: Security, Nationhood, and Neocolonialism, and seeks to look at how Britain remained entangled with former colonies (Kenya and Zambia, particularly) after independence, and how these entanglements were caught up with those new nations’ efforts to address questions of independence, belonging, and security. I am also working on a set of articles that will capture the complexities of conservation and environmental politics of Zambia during the late-colonial and early-national periods, touching on conservation as a state-building enterprise, the role of customary authorities in shaping conservation discourse, and tensions between local and global conservation imperatives. A third project examines how the Kenyan government and business community dealt with and sought opportunities in the fallout from settler colonialism in southern Africa during the 1960s.
As this range of projects--many of them transnational--demonstrates, I remain interested in themes of conservation and decolonization which animated my earlier work, but also on the way that people navigated local and global scales during formative years of nationhood, and on neocolonialism as a framework for thinking about issues of security and citizenship.
Modern Britain/British Empire
Like my research, my teaching focuses on European, African, environmental, and colonial history. Courses I have recently taught include:
- History 103 (Global Problems in Historical Perspective. Topics include: 'Apartheid in a Global Context' and ‘The Anthropocene’.)
- History 106 (Europe Since 1648)
- History 232 (History of Africa) [Cross-listed with African American and African Diaspora Studies]
- History 350 (Modern Africa) [Cross-listed with African American and African Diaspora Studies]
- History 443/643 (Comparative Environmental History)
- History 464/664 (Twentieth Century Europe)
- History 477B/677B (Topics in African History. Topics include ‘Making Modern East Africa’) [Cross-listed with African American and African Diaspora Studies]
- History 479/679 (the British Empire)
- History 732 (Comparative Colonialism)
- History 738 (Global Africa)