Morgan J. Robinson

Morgan J. Robinson


  • History of Science and Technology
  • War, Power, International Affairs


  • Assistant Professor


  • Africa
  • History of Science


  • 2021-2022 Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University



  • 208 Allen Hall

I am a historian of eastern Africa, interested in (among many topics) language, standardization, time, creativity, and learning. My first book, Standard Swahili: Expressions of Belonging and Exclusion in Eastern Africa, examines the history of Standard Swahili, tracing the varied constituencies involved in the codification of the language over the course of nearly a century. My next project will explore the multiple traditions of research and inquiry that shaped the University of East Africa and its constituent campuses in Kampala, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam.

I love teaching African history to both undergraduates and graduate students, as I find that I myself learn more and more with every class! I will be on leave in Berlin, Germany on a Humboldt Research Fellowship beginning Spring 2021 through the 2021-2022 academic year.

Princeton University
PhD in History, May 2018
Dissertation: “An Uncommon Standard: A Social and Intellectual History of Swahili, 1864-1925”

Princeton University
MA in History, September 2013
Fields: Pre-Colonial Africa; Modern Africa; Islam and the Indian Ocean

Yale University
BA in History, May 2008

Mississippi State University, Assistant Professor, Fall 2018 – Present

Princeton University, Pre-doctoral Lecturer, Writing Program, 2017-2018

Standard Swahili: Expressions of Belonging and Exclusion in Eastern Africa
(Under contract with Ohio University Press).

“The Idea of the Upelekwa: Constructing a Transcontinental Community in Eastern Africa, 1888-1896,” Journal of the History of Ideas 81, no.1 (January 2020): 85-106.

“La Belle Époque from Eastern Africa: An Individual Experience of the ‘Globalizing’ World, 1898-1918,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 13, no.4 (November 2019): 584-600.

“Binding Words: Student Biographical Narratives and Religious Conversion,” in Klaas van Walraven (ed.), The Individual in African History: The Importance of Biography in African Historical Studies, (Brill: Leiden and Boston, 2020).

“Cutting pice and running away: Discipline, education and choice at the UMCA Boys' Industrial  House, Zanzibar, 1901-1905,” Southern African Review of Education, Vol. 19, No. 2 (December  2013): 9-24.

“History of the Standard Swahili Language,” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (Forthcoming).


African Studies Association, November 2020
  Chair, “Language Policy in Kenya: Multilingualism as Both Problem and Solution”

History of Science Society, [Postponed] November 2021
  Chair and Presenter, “The Creativity of Clerkship”

African Studies Association, Boston, MA, November 2019
Chair and Presenter: “Synchronicity and Divergence: The Multiple Timelines of Standard Swahili”

History of Science Society, Utrecht, Netherlands, July 2019
Moderator and Presenter: “Participation and Demand: Swahili and the Work of the Inter-Territorial Language Committee”

19th Annual Africa Conference at the University of Texas at Austin, March 2019
  Panel: “Personal Narratives and Questions of Identity in Africa and its Diaspora”

“History and Politics of Belonging in African Indian Ocean Societies,”
   Martin-Luther University, Halle, Germany, June 2018
  “Belonging Nowhere and Everywhere at Once: Agnes Sapuli and the Cosmopolitanism of    the Universities' Mission”

African Studies Association, Chicago, IL, November 2017
Chair and Presenter: “The Story of Agnes Sapuli: Biography and African Intellectual History”

African Literature Association, Yale University, June 2017
“In the Pages of Msimulizi: Tracing a Swahili Literary Magazine and Network of the Late-Nineteenth Century”

African Studies Association, Washington, D.C., December 2016
“Enthusiasm Among Bibis: Gender, Religion, and Race in Nineteenth Century Zanzibar”

African Studies Centre, Leiden University, September 2016
“Binding Words: Student Biographical Narratives and Religious Conversion”

Yale University InterAsia Initiative, Yale University, February 2016
“Binding Words: Student Conversion Narratives and the Establishment of the Zanzibar Protectorate”

African Studies Association, San Diego, CA, November 2015
“Msimulizi and the Everyday Narration of Community in Eastern Africa, 1888-1896”

African Studies Association, Indianapolis, IN, November 2014
“'Am I Not Baptised?': Violence, Re-naming and the Students of the Universities' Mission in Nineteenth-Century Zanzibar”

Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers,
Berlin, Germany -- January 2020-June 2022

Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant for Research in European, African, or Asian History,
American Historical Association, 2019

Graduate Teaching Award, Princeton University, 2018

Quin Morton Teaching Fellowship, Princeton Writing Program, 2017-2018
Graduate Fellow, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
Dissertation writing grant, 2016-2017

Graduate Research Fellow, Princeton Center for the Study of Religion
Dissertation writing grant, 2016-2017

Research Grant
Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, May 2012


Zanzibar National Archives
June 2012 and September 2013-February 2014

Tanzania National Archives
  May-June 2019

British National Archives
  June-July 2019

SOAS Special Collections
  June-July 2019

Bodleian Libraries, Commonwealth and African Collections
University of Oxford, July 2012; February-July 2014; July 2019



Advanced Swahili
Elementary German
Elementary French

Modern Africa (undergraduate survey)
African Civilizations (undergraduate survey)
Imperialism and Colonialism in Africa (graduate seminar)
Africa in the History of Science (graduate seminar)
Imperialism, Independence, and Post-Colonial Nation Building (graduate seminar)
Histories of Time (graduate seminar)
Comparative Slavery (graduate seminar)
Justice After Empire (freshman seminar)