I am an historian of Africa focusing on southern Africa in a global context in the late twentieth century, with a broader interest in Africa's long-term historiography. I am interested in the ways that global and transnational connections have both impacted the continent and been shaped by it.
My work considers the contingent nature of historical production, and the self-consciousness with which historical actors develop their legacies and sometimes silence alternative narratives in the process. A vital element of this is the creation of personal, political archives, and the agency of archival sources in impacting and shaping events, interpretations, and the historiography. I favor the particularity of micro histories as threads for tracing the broader tapestry of global developments.
I have an interest in depictions of local or State corruption in relation to institutionalized global corrupt practice; authoritarianism and State control of people, animals, and the environment (for instance through censorship and through the use of identity numbers and documents); cartography and other technologies of envisioning space and those who occupy it; intertextuality; the history of science, particularly Africa’s place in it; the deceptions of memory; the cult of celebrity; the deployment of psychology and the category of the ‘normal’ by authoritarian States; the political impact of secret organizations; race, history, and epigenetics; and, broadly, ethics.