About our staff
Dr Emma Hunter
MA, MPhil, PhD, SFHEA
Senior Lecturer; African History
- Co-director of the Edinburgh Centre for Global History
Affiliated research centres
I am a historian of Africa in a global context with particular interests in intellectual history and the history of political thought, print culture and the history of nationalism and decolonization. I grew up in Edinburgh then studied and taught in Cambridge before returning to Edinburgh and joining the School of History, Classics and Archaeology in January 2015. I am principal investigator for a Leverhulme-funded project ‘Another World? East Africa and the Global 1960s’ with Daniel Branch and Gerard McCann which will run from 2018 until 2022. In 2018-19 I am the Quentin Skinner Fellow in Intellectual History at CRASSH at the University of Cambridge.
I have supervised a range of PhD topics in the field of African history, including ‘Nationalism, Authority and Political Identity in the Secession of Katanga, 1908-1963’ (Catherine Porter); Church and State in Post-Colonial Uganda, 1962-1981’ (Eva Namusoke) and ‘Imaginging Modernity in the Uganda Prisons Service, 1945-1979' (Katherine Bruce-Lockhart).
I welcome proposals for research projects in the field of African political, intellectual, cultural and social history.
View of Lake Victoria, Tanzania
I am a co-editor of the Journal of Eastern African Studies. I also serve on the editorial boards of Social History and Modern Intellectual History. Together with Dr Adam Branch and Dr Chris Warnes, I am a co-editor of the Cambridge Centre of African Studies book series with Ohio University Press.
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Comparative & Global History
- Nineteenth Century
- Twentieth Century & After
My research is in the field of modern African and global political, intellectual and cultural history, and focuses on two connected areas.
The first of these is the intellectual history of twentieth-century Africa in a global context. While the texts produced by African intellectuals and statesmen have attracted considerable attention, historians have often neglected those produced by people who were not leading politicians or great thinkers but who were nevertheless engaged in intellectual work, reflecting on the changing world around them and employing new political ideas and reinterpreting older idioms to challenge colonial states and create new political formations, often in vernacular languages. How might we take these texts seriously, and use them as a window on the intellectual history of the twentieth century, in Africa and beyond?
My second area of research is that of the history of African print cultures and the history of the Swahili language in East Africa. I’m particularly interested in colonial and post-colonial newspapers in Africa and the wider colonial world, and the ways in which they served as spaces in which ideas were debated and worked through, as ways of making and breaking global connections and as didactic spaces employed by colonial states to create new kinds of subjects.
Current research activities
In September 2018, Gerard McCann (York), Daniel Branch (Warwick) and I began a new Leverhulme-funded project exploring East Africa's global 1960s. Global connections are brittle. The global turn in History and Politics has privileged long-term flows of people, capital and ideas, assuming the ubiquity and ever-increasing power of these connections. But the view from early postcolonial East Africa challenges this narrative. By studying East Africa’s textual cultures we will demonstrate that global connections were powerful and real at independence. But by the early 1970s, utopian ideas of a globally connected African future had been destroyed by introverted nationalism. This project interrogates key assumptions of the linearity of globalisation by exploring how a vision of a connected postcolonial world shattered.
Recovering Liberties in Twentieth-Century Africa
Once approached primarily as part of the history of the West, liberalism has recently begun to receive attention from a global perspective. Yet the history of liberalism in twentieth-century Africa remains little studied. This is perhaps not surprising. As others have argued, there is an urgent need to revisit the history of liberalism in Africa and to recognise that much of this thought takes places in vernacular languages, in unexpected idioms and in unexpected places. Taking up this challenge will be my focus in 2018-19 as the Quentin Skinner Fellow at CRASSH: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/people/profile/emma-hunter1
Negotiating region and state after independence: imagining and (de)constructing integration in East Africa, 1960s-70s
Together with Dr Gerard McCann (York), I am a co-investigator on this project, funded by a British Academy small grant and led by Dr Chris Vaughan (Liverpool John Moores). The tensions between national sovereignty and processes of regional and economic integration are concerns of urgent global significance, yet remain relatively neglected by historians of Africa. This project examines the history of regional integration (and disintegration) in East Africa in the 1960s and 70s to uncover political and intellectual trajectories towards both unity and division in this period: https://riea.co
Politics and Power in Post-Colonial East Africa
The Bandung Moment: Revolution, Anti-Imperialism and Afro-Asian Connections in the Global Twentieth Century (not running in 2018-19)
Global Connections since 1450
- Citizens and Subjects: concepts of citizenship in modern African intellectual history
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Link|
|Brice-Bennett, Nico||PhD||Tanzanian Christianity and Socio-Political Thought in the Nyerere Years: A Comparative Study of the Chagga of Kilimanjaro and the Haya of Kagera, 1954-1985||Secondary|
|Claringbold, Arran||PhD||Diversity during Zimbabwe's Independence Struggle: Abel Muzorewa's place in Zimbabwean nationalism||Primary||link|
|Heathcote, Daniel||PhD||Another World? East Africa and the Global 1960s||Primary|
|Hutton, Maurice||PhD||Modernisers at work: the development plans and practices of the African Administration Department of late colonial Bulawayo, 1949-76||Secondary||link|
|Marmon, Brooks||PhD||The impact of African decolonisation on political developments in colonial Zimbabwe||Secondary||link|
|Mitchell, Henry||PhD||Intellectual biography of Clements Kadalie||Joint||link|
|Zetterberg, Hugo||PhD||'How Did the French and British Press Portray Late Colonial Wars?'||Secondary|
Currently accepting research student applications : Yes
Hunter, E, Political Thought and the Public Sphere in Tanzania: Freedom, Democracy and Citizenship in the Era of Decolonization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 (Winner of the RHS Gladstone Prize 2016; Finalist for the Bethwell A. Ogot Prize 2016)
Hunter, E, Citizenship, Belonging and Political Community in Africa: Dialogues between Past and Present, Athens OH: Ohio University Press, 2016
Peterson, D, Hunter, E and Newell, S, African Print Cultures: Newspapers and their publics in the twentieth century, Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press, 2016
Hunter, E., 'Languages of Freedom in Decolonising Africa', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 27 (2017), 253-269
Hunter, E., 'Voluntarism, Virtuous Citizenship and Nation-Building in Late Colonial and Early Postcolonial Tanzania', African Studies Review, 58, 2 (2015), 43-61
Hunter, E, ‘Language, Empire and the World: Karl Roehl and the history of the Swahili Bible in East Africa’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 41, 4, 2013
Hunter, E, ‘Dutiful Subjects, Patriotic Citizens and the Concept of 'Good Citizenship' in Twentieth-Century Tanzania’, The Historical Journal, 56, 1, 2013, 257-277
Hunter, E, ‘'The History and Affairs of TANU': Intellectual History, Nationalism, and the Postcolonial State in Tanzania’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 45, 3, 2012, 365-383
Hunter, E, ‘'Our Common Humanity': print, power and the colonial press in interwar Tanganyika and French Cameroun’, Journal of Global History, July 2012, pp. 279-301
Hunter, E, 'African history on screen and in the classroom', African Research and Documentation, 2009
Hunter, E, ‘Revisiting Ujamaa: Political Legitimacy and the Construction of Community in Post-Colonial Tanzania’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2, 2008, 471-485
Hunter, E., '"Economic Man in East Africa” Revisited’ in B. Berman, A. Laliberté and Steve Larin (eds.), The Moral Economies of Ethnic and Nationalist Claims, Toronto: UBC Press, 2016, pp. 101-122
Hunter, E., ‘Komkya and the convening of a Chagga public, 1953-1961’, in D. Peterson, E. Hunter and S. Newell (eds.), African Print Cultures: newspapers and their publics in the twentieth century, Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press, 2016, pp. 283-305
Hunter, E., 'Julius Nyerere, the Arusha Declaration and the deep roots of a contemporary political metaphor', in Marie-Aude Fouere, ed., Remembering Julius Nyerere in Tanzania: History, Memory, Legacy, Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, 2015
Hunter, E, 'Julius Nyerere' in Jonathan Wright and Steven Casey, eds., Mental Maps in the Era of Detente and the End of the Cold War, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 81-96
Hunter, E, ‘A history of maendeleo: the concept of 'development' in Tanganyika's late colonial public sphere’, in Joseph Hodge, Martina Kopf and Gerald Hoedl, eds., Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth Century Colonialism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014, pp. 87-107
Hunter, E, ‘In pursuit of the ‘higher medievalism’: local history and politics in Kilimanjaro’, in Derek Peterson and Giacomo Macola, eds., Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa, Athens OH: Ohio University Press, 2009