Michelle R. Moyd

Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor, Department of History

Associate Director, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES)

Faculty Affiliate, African Studies Program

Faculty Affiliate, Department of Gender Studies

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Studies

Faculty Affiliate, Department of International Studies

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. Another research project, which is in very early stages, examines  colonial militaries and labor patterns 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 global history of World War I and its aftermaths; and labor history. Most recently, I developed the course "Histories of Humanitarianism," which will be taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Honors and Awards

  • Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities Summer Incubator Grant (2019)
  • Indiana University Libraries Primary Source Immersion Grant (2017)
  • Indiana University Libraries Instructional Development Grant (2016)
  • Jack and Julia Wickes Fund for the Study of War and Society Travel Research Grant (2016)
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute Research Travel Grant (2016)
  • Institute for Advanced Study Individual Research Award (2016)
  • New Frontiers of Creativity and Scholarship Grant (2016)
  • 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
  • Humanitarianism


  • M.A. and Ph.D. at Cornell University, 2008
  • M.A. at University of Florida, 1996
  • A.B. at Princeton University, 1990

Courses Taught

  • E200 War and Peace in Twentieth-Century Africa
  • E200 African Labor History
  • E331 Africa to 1800
  • E332 Africa since 1800
  • 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
  • H695 Histories of Humanitarianism


  • Africa, Africans, and the First World War, under contract with Cambridge University Press, in progress.
  • With Yuliya Komska and David Gramling, Linguistic Disobedience: Restoring Power to Civic Language (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

  • Violent Intermediaries:  African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2014).

  • “Imagining African Warfare: War Games and Military Cultures in German East Africa,” in Wayne Lee, ed., Warfare and Culture in World History, 2nd edition (NYU Press, 2020).
  • “Visualizing Women's War Work: Photographs and Labor in a German Colonial War Memoir," in Adam Blackler, David Pizzo, and Sara Pugach, eds., After the Imperialist Imagination (Peter Lang, 2020).
  • “Radical Potentials, Conservative Realities: African Veterans of the German Colonial Army Post-World War I Tanganyika,” First World War Studies, 10, 1 (2019).
  • With Joël Glasman, “Military and Police” in Stefano Bellucci and Andreas Eckert, eds., General Labour History of Africa, (James Currey Press, 2019).
  • “‘From a Hurt Sense of Honor’: Race, Violence Work, and the Limits of Soldierly Obedience on a Scientific Expedition in German East Africa, 1896-1897,Slavery and Abolition 39,  3 (August 2018), 579-601.
  • “Color Lines, Front Lines: World War I from the South,” Radical History Review special issue “The Global South: History, Politics, Maps,” 2018, 131 (May 2018), 13-35. 
  • With Frances M. Clarke and Rebecca Jo Plant, “Moral Panic versus Moral Blindness: Responses to Children’s Militarization in Uganda and the U.S.,” in Micol Seigel, ed. Panic, Transnational Cultural Studies, and the Affective Contours of Power, (Routledge, 2018).
  • With Yuliya Komska, “Language is a Public Thing,” Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association 6, 2 (Winter 2017).
  • "Gender and Violence" in Susan Grayzel and Tammy Proctor, eds. Gender and the Great War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 187-210. 
  • "Resistance and Rebellions (Africa)," in 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2017-06-20. DOI10.15463/ie1418.11112.
  • "Centring a Sideshow: local experiences of the First World War in Africa," First World War Studies, 7, 2 (2016), 111-130.
  • "The Tyranny of Distance, Up Close," Africa is a Country blog, October 29, 2015.
  • "Extra-European Theatres of War," 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15463/ie1418.10318.
  • Bomani: African Soldiers as Colonial Intermediaries in German East Africa, 1890-1914, in Nina Berman, Klaus Mühlhahn, 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).