I am a historian of modern Africa, and currently an Assistant Professor in the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. I am also a member of the African Studies Program's Executive Committee and a co-organizer of the African Studies Lecture Series since 2011. I've worked at the UO since 2011, teaching for the Departments of Anthropology, History, and International Studies. I received my Ph.D. in History and my Masters in Public Health from Boston University. I have worked domestically as a health educator with Planned Parenthood, and have led health outreach and advocacy programs in Botswana and Tanzania.

My research has an East Africa regional emphasis (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) and I employ a variety of historical and anthropological methods in investigating topics of interest. I am particularly committed to making research findings accessible to the larger public, and serving as a bridge to translate academic findings to practitioners working in the field. My hope is that careful histories of global health, biomedicine, and science in East Africa will provide useful information to help create more sensitive policy and research programs in these areas in the future.

You can hear more about my research here in an interview with Paul Peppis of the Oregon Humanities Center. I also spoke with Jo Weaver and Erik Peterson from the Speaking of Race podcast and you can listen to that interview here.

The Experiment Must Continue

My book, The Experiment Must Continue: Medical Research and Ethics in East Africa, 1940-2014 (Ohio University Press, 2015) tells the story of human experimentation and medical ethics in East Africa from 1940 to the present. It is a history of the very real encounters that made up medical research in the region: of European doctors taking blood samples under cover of darkness; African assistants going door to door collecting stool samples in tarred jars; and of school children lined up to receive injections. It is also a recounting of peoples' responses to and understanding of these encounters. I spent time in more than 15 different places searching for documents or people who helped me reconstruct the history of medical research in the region: I discovered new archival materials Mwanza and Amani (Tanzania); interviewed residents of Ukara and Ukerewe Islands in Lake Victoria; and worked in archives in Nairobi and Kisumu.

You can download the first chapter of the book here and there is a study guide with reading questions, activity ideas, and primary sources available here.

To date, the book has been reviewed in the academic journals: Medical History, Medical Anthropology Quarterly  the International Journal of African Historical Studies , the Journal of Modern African Studies, the Revue Politique Africaine, the Social History of Medicine, Isis, the African Studies Review and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History . It has also been written about in the Washington Post's blog, The Monkey Cage and here, discussed on the World Bank blog, Development Impact, by the CIHA blog and by the World Bank economist, David Evans. The University of Oregon's "Around the O" covered it here and it was the subject of a podcast episode on Ufahamu Africa. It is also being taught in history and African Studies courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level at places including Reed College, Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin Madison, the University of Birmingham, Amherst College, Ohio State University, University of Maryland, and the University of South Carolina.

Ongoing Research

I am engaged in a number of other research projects in East Africa and across the continent. These include:

 1) "Everyday Life on the African Continent: Fun, Leisure, and Expressivity," co-edited with Kemi Balogun, Habib Iddrisu, and Lisa Gilman. This volume focuses on the creative and dynamic ways that people in African contexts are using their leisure time, having fun, being creative, and engaging in forms of expressive culture. It is meant as a counterpoint to the bulk of materials available for undergraduate African Studies courses that emphasize war, poverty, corruption, disease, and human rights violations. The intended audience is lower-division undergraduate classes in African Studies, Folklore, Anthropology, and Sociology.  We held a symposium on this topic at the UO on February 24, 2017, more information here. This project has a pre-completion contract with Ohio University Press and will be published November 2019.

2) "Health, Disease and Environment in Africa," co-edited with Daphne Gallagher. This collection of articles focuses on anthropological and historical approaches to the relationships between health, disease and environment. The book draws upon the broad and deep expertise of Oregon-based Africanists who work on related topics. A year-long set of activities will involve multiple writing workshops as a way to build intellectual community within the state and coherency and connections among the contributions. Scholars from UO, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Western Oregon University, Reed College, and Willamette College are all involved.

3) "Failures and the Loss of Trust: International Attempts at Malaria Elimination in Zanzibar, 1900-2016." This is a single-authored monograph project, in the analysis and writing stage, chronicling the history of malaria elimination attempts in Zanzibar. The project focuses on the WHO’s failed global eradication attempt between 1958-1968, and the epidemic of rebound malaria that struck the island afterwards. A particular focus is on the ethical questions emerging around rebound malaria, the loss of acquired immunity, and how local communities are informed of the potential risks, and how international global health groups plan exit strategies for when their elimination/control activities end. My analysis continues into the present to do some comparisons with the current malaria elimination activities going on in Zanzibar. The sources and methods are a blend of historical and anthropological, drawing on work in the Zanzibar National Archives and the WHO archives, and interviews and observations in Zanzibar. The full book will focus on Zanzibar in depth, but will compare it to what we’ve learned and documented from other cases of rebound malaria epidemics globally. 

4) "The DHS: The Creation of a Global Tool." This is a single-authored monograph project, in the early stages of research, tracing the creation and growth of the ubiquitous “DHS” (Demographic and Health Survey), its widespread use in economic development and public health work, and the ethical questions surrounding the use of this tool.


Publications--Peer Reviewed

The Experiment Must Continue: Medical Research and Ethics in East Africa, 1940-2014. Ohio University Press, 2015. Sample Chapter.

“Forgetting Scientific Failures: The Kenya DIBD and Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Attempts, 1946-1956,” (co-authored with Hannah Carr). Canadian Journal of African Studies. Special Issue on Health Capacity, Guest editor, Wenzel Geissler. 51, 1 (2017): 1-17. Article.

“Incorporating Medical Research Into the History of Medicine in East Africa.” Special Issue on the History of Medicine in East Africa. International Journal of African Historical Studies, 47, 3 (2014): 379-398.  Article.

“‘The Malaria Imbroglio:’ Ethics, Eradication, and Endings in Pare Taveta, East Africa, 1959-1960.” Special Issue on the History of Medicine in East Africa. International Journal of African Historical Studies. 47, 3 (2014): 445-472.  Article.

“Chappati Complaints and Biriani Cravings: The Aesthetics of Food in Colonial Zanzibari Institutions,” Journal of Eastern African Studies, May 2011: 313-328. Article.

“Fines, Orders, Fear... and Consent? Medical Research in East Africa, c. 1950s.” Journal of Developing World Bioethics, April 2010: 34-41. Article.

Publications--In Progress

"Everyday Life on the African Continent: Fun, Leisure, and Expressivity." Co-edited with Kemi Balogun, Habib Iddrisu, Lisa Gilman. Pre-completion contract with Ohio University Press. 

“Good Food, Ridiculous Diets and a Well Fed Swahili: Food and Diet in Colonial Zanzibari Institutions,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. Accepted with revisions.

“Economies of Blood in East Africa: from Mumiani to Transfusions, 1880s-Present,” In preparation.

Book Reviews

Christopher J. Lee. Unreasonable Histories: Nativism, Multiracial Lives, and the Genealogical Imagination in British Africa. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014; in Canadian Journal of History, 2016. Review

Maria Grosz-Ngate, John H. Hanson, Patrick O’Meara. Africa: Fourth Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014; in Journal of African History, 2016. Review

Johanna Tayloe Crane. Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013; in African Affairs, 2014. Review

Hansjorg Dilger, Aboulaye Kane and Stacey Langwick, eds., Medicine, Mobility and Power in Global Africa: Transnational Health and Healing; Tamara Giles-Vernick and James Webb, eds.,Global Health in Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control; Paul Wenzel Geissler and Catherine Molyneux, eds., Evidence, Ethos and Experiment: the Anthropology and History of Medical Research in Africa; in African Studies Review, 57, 2014. Review

Helen Tilley. Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011; in International Journal of African Historical Studies, 2010. Review

Hansjorg Dilger and Ute Luig, eds. Morality, Hope and Grief: Anthropologies of AIDS in Africa. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010; in H-Net Reviews, September 2011. Review

Paul Wenzel Geissler and Ruth Jane Prince. The Land is Dying: Contingency, Creativity and Conflict in Western Kenya. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010in African Studies Quarterly,Winter 2011. Review

Andrew Rodlach. Witches, Westerners, and HIV: AIDS & Cultures of Blame in Africa. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2006; in H-Net Reviews, April 2008. Review

John Iliffe. The African Aids Epidemic: A History. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006; inInternational Journal of African Historical Studies, September 2007. Review

Tracy J. Luedke and Harry G. West, eds. Borders and Healers: Brokering Therapeutic Resources in Southeast Africa. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006; in International Journal of African Historical Studies, January 2007. Review

High School/Undergraduate Curricula

“Exploring Disease in Africa: A Curriculum for Advanced High School Students.” Curriculum

"Teaching Ebola: Responses, Ethics, and the Future." Curriculum forthcoming.


Catalog to historical materials housed at Amani Station, Tanzania. National Institute of Medical Research. October 2008. Catalog


“Learning From the Past: The Future of Malaria in Africa.” Issues in Brief, (Boston: Boston University Pardee Center), 2008. Article