Michelle R. Moyd

Associate Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of eastern Africa, with special interests in the region’s history of soldiering and warfare. My first book, Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa explores the social and cultural history of African soldiers (askari) in the colonial army of German East Africa, today’s Tanzania. The book examines how askari identities were shaped by their geographical and sociological origins, their ways of war, and their roles as agents of the colonial state. I am currently at work on a short book entitled Africa, Africans, and the First World War, which will examine the spectrum of African experiences in the war, especially as soldiers and workers. I am also researching the social, cultural, and international political history of the 1979 Kagera War fought between Tanzania and Uganda for a future book-length project. Another research project, which is in very early stages, involves examining the historical links between colonial militaries and work across different imperial experiences. I am particularly interested in bringing the experience of nineteenth-century African-American soldiers into a broader analysis of soldiers of empire.

My teaching draws on overlapping interests in African history; histories of conflict, militarization, and humanitarianism; the history of World War I and its aftermaths; and labor history. Over the next couple of years, I will be developing a course entitled “The Ethics of Helping Others: Humanitarianism in Modern History,” which brings together all of these interests.

Honors and Awards

  • Summer Instructional Development Fellowship, Center for Innovative Teaching and  Learning (2015)
  • Jesse Fine Fellowship, Poynter Center for The Study of Ethics and American  Institutions (2015)
  • College Arts and Humanities Travel Research Grant, Indiana University (2013-2014)
  • College Arts and Humanities Workshop Grant, Indiana University (2013-2014)
  • Resident Fellow, International Research Center Work and Human  Lifecycle in Global History, Humboldt University, Berlin (2012-2013)
  • New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Research Fellowship, Indiana University (2011-2012)
  • Resident Fellow, Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas-Austin (2010- 2011)
  • Indiana University Campus Writing Program, Summer Teaching Writing Fellowship (2010)
  • Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies (2004-5)
  • Fulbright Fellowship, Tanzania (2003-2004)

Research Interests

  • African military history
  • Militaries and labor
  • Everyday history of colonialism
  • Power and its expressions
  • World War I


  • Ph.D. at Cornell University, 2008

Courses Taught

  • E200 War and Peace in Twentieth-Century Africa
  • E200 African Labor History
  • E331 Africa to the 1800s
  • E332 Africa Since the 1800s
  • J300 African Military Cultures and Conflicts
  • J300 African War Stories: History and Representation
  • J300 Soldiers and Veterans
  • W203 World War I: Global War
  • H695 Eastern Africa
  • H695 War, Peace, Other in African History


  • Violent Intermediaries:  African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2014).
  • Bomani: African Soldiers as Colonial Intermediaries in German East Africa, 1890-1914, in Nina Berman, Klaus Muehlhahn, and Patrice Nganang, eds., German Colonialism Revisited: African, Asian, and Oceanic Responses (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014).
  • “Making the Household, Making the State: Colonial Military Communities and Labor in German East Africa,” International Labor and Working Class History 80 (Fall 2011), 53-76.
  • "'We don't want to die for nothing': Askari at War in German East Africa, 1914-1918," in Santanu Das, ed., Race, Empire, and First World War Experience (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • "'All people were barbarians to the askari':  Askari Identity and Honor in the Maji Maji War, 1905-1907," in James Giblin and Jamie Monson, eds., Maji Maji: Lifting the Fog of War (Leiden: Brill, 2010).
  • "Askari/Askari Myth" in A Companion to Continental European Postcolonial Histories, Birthe Kundrus, ed. (Edinburgh and New York: Edinburgh University Press and Columbia University Press, 2008).
  • "A Uniform of Whiteness: Racisms in the German Officer Corps," in Jenny Macleod and Pierre Purseigle, eds., Uncovered Fields: Perspectives in First World War Studies (Leiden: Brill 2004).