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PUBLICATIONS

Links are provided to each publication. Please contact me if you do not have access. I have also published several book reviews (not listed).

HISTORIC LAKE LEVEL VARIABILITY AND CURRENT DISASTERS ON THE SHORES OF LAKE TANGANYIKA

2023: Refereed Journal Article

Since 2019, several communities on the shores of Lake Tanganyika have been experiencing an environmental disaster triggered by a dramatic rise in the lake’s water level. Popular media reports suggest that the rise is caused by global warming. However, comparable water level rises over the last 150 years show that this only tells part of the story. Global warming may well be driving Lake Tanganyika’s current rising water level, but structural factors and policy decisions taken at local and global scales are the factors that are turning this environmental change into a disaster.

VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER AND CHANGE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN WORLD

2023: Refereed Special Issue

In: International Review of Environmental History, 9, 1. Co-edited with Fiona Williamson and Julie Babin. Inspired by recent scholarship on disaster history and situated within the broader field of environmental history, this special issue highlights structural factors that have exacerbated the effects of extreme weather and explores how states and societies have responded and adapted (or not) during and after disasters. The five case studies all focus on the Indian Ocean World (IOW), a macro-region stretching from eastern Africa to East Asia and Southeast Asia, and align chronologically with the so-called Anthropocene, the period during which the industrial Global North began to leave its indelible imprint on the world’s climatic systems. They build on a small but growing scholarship that looks at historical disasters and disaster responses within the IOW, arguing collectively for the application of historical methodologies in approaching the challenge of extreme weather now and in the future.

VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER AND CHANGE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN WORLD

2023: Refereed Journal Article

In: International Review of Environmental History, 9, 1: 31-38. Co-authored with Fiona Williamson and Julie Babin. Introduction to the Special Issue.

RESILIENCE AND VULNERABILITY TO DROUGHT IN UNYANYEMBE (WEST-CENTRAL TANZANIA) IN THE 1830S AND 1870S–90S

2023: Refereed Journal Article

In: International Review of Environmental History, 9, 1: 57-73. Co-Authored with Cecile Dai, Riccardo Mercatali, and Daniele Battistelli. This article inserts climatic and environmental factors into the history of Unyanyembe, a kingdom located in present-day west-central Tanzania. Widely recognised as one of the most influential and important nineteenth-century kingdoms in equatorial eastern Africa, Unyanyembe’s prominence has up to now been understood largely in political and economic terms. By contrast, this article argues that its shifting fortunes can partly be understood in terms of resilience and vulnerability to the effects of drought. This article does so firstly by using historical–climatological methods to reconstruct two protracted dry periods in equatorial eastern Africa’s history, respectively in the 1830s and the 1870s–90s. Second, it examines several factors that contributed to Unyanyembe’s resilience to the effects of drought in the 1830s, and those circumstances that led to heightened levels of vulnerability in the 1870s–90s. The choice of crops, labour regimes, population pressure, political stability and instability, economic change and migration, all of which were tied to the global spread of capitalism, played vital roles in both historical periods. In concluding, this history adds further contextual information related to the kingdom’s initial encounter with German imperialists from the 1890s. Rather than just creating new vulnerabilities to the effects of drought, it argues, German colonial policies exacerbated existing trends that began to develop through the region’s gradual integration with the world economy from the mid-nineteenth century.

'DOCUMENTS, REANALYSIS, AND GLOBAL CIRCULATION MODELS: A NEW METHOD FOR RECONSTRUCTING HISTORICAL CLIMATE FOCUSING ON PRESENT-DAY INLAND TANZANIA, 1856–1890'

2023: Preprint

In: Climate of the Past Preprints (EGUSphere). Co-authored with Melissa J. Lazenby, Michael R. Frogley, Cecile Dai, and Wenqi Su. This article proposes a novel methodology for reconstructing past climatic conditions in regions and time-periods for which there is limited evidence from documentary and natural proxy sources. Focusing on present-day inland Tanzania during the period 1856–1890, it integrates evidence from qualitative documentary sources with quantitative outputs from climate reanalysis and global circulation models (GCMs), which enables the creation of interdisciplinary seasonal time-series of rainfall variability for three distinct locales. It does so by indexing each dataset to the same 7-point scale and weighting each output according to a predefined level of confidence in the documentary data. This process challenges the subjectivity of nineteenth-century Europeans in Africa, whose reports form the basis of the documentary material, and adds evidence from the region, which is currently lacking from the latest reanalysis products and GCMs. The result is a more scientifically grounded interpretation of documentary materials and a more locally grounded estimation of rainfall that would otherwise be gained from referring to reanalysis or GCMs alone. The methodology is validated with reference to observed long-term trends gathered from (paleo)limnological studies, and it is shown to provide marked insights into four periods of environmental stress in the region’s late-nineteenth-century past. Future challenges may involve integrating evidence from oral traditions and adapting the methodology for other regions and time-periods.

'DROUGHTS, FAMINES, AND CHRONICLES: THE 1780S GLOBAL CLIMATIC ANOMALIES IN HIGHLAND ETHIOPIA'

2023: Refereed Journal Article

In: Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 53, 3: 387-405. Climatological data suggest that the key driver of drought in Highland Ethiopia, and in the wider Indian Ocean World, during the early 1780s was an El Niño Southern Oscillation anomaly. Ethiopia during this period—an early decade in the zemene mesafint (1769–1855)—endured considerable political instability. The lack of documentary evidence and an over-reliance on the Ethiopian Royal Chronicles has led historians to view reports of “famine” during the early zemene mesafint as indicative of severe environmental stress. A more critical reading of the Chronicles, by contrast, suggests that integrating its reports of warfare with the climatological record presents a more accurate chronology of drought severity and possible occurrences of famine. 

'CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY IN EQUATORIAL EASTERN AFRICA, 1876-84'

2022: Refereed Journal Article

In: International Journal of African Historical Studies, 55, 2: 207-29. This article examines the relationship between climate change and political instability in Mirambo’s domain and in Buganda during the late-nineteenth century. It builds on the recent regional historiography that argues that both Mirambo and Mutesa I struggled to maintain their respective states’ integrity in their final years, before those states collapsed under new leadership from the mid-1880s. It does so by incorporating and adding to the latest climatological research on the region, and by analyzing the cascading effects of volatile levels of rainfall on agricultural yields and the spread of disease. It argues that the effects of frequent and severe droughts in 1876–84 were worsened by the adoption of high-potential-yield crops with low resistance to water stress, and by the growth of large administrative, commercial, and military centers, whose residents required feeding from production in rural areas, and which acted as reservoirs for epidemics. In turn, these effects contributed to population movements and they reduced states’ capacities to deal with regional rebellions, contributing to weakened political centers. This climatic and environmental context significantly contributed to political instability in at least two of equatorial eastern Africa’s most prominent states in the 1870s–80s.

2022: Refereed Monograph

This is the first interdisciplinary history of Lake Tanganyika and of eastern Africa's relationship with the wider Indian Ocean World during the nineteenth century. Philip Gooding deploys diverse source materials, including oral, climatological, anthropological, and archaeological sources, to ground interpretations of the better-known, European-authored archive in local epistemologies and understandings of the past. Gooding shows that Lake Tanganyika's shape, location, and distinctive lacustrine environment contributed to phenomena traditionally associated with the history of the wider Indian Ocean World being negotiated, contested, and re-imagined in particularly robust ways. He adds novel contributions to African and Indian Ocean histories of urbanism, the environment, spirituality, kinship, commerce, consumption, material culture, bondage, slavery, Islam, and capitalism. African peoples and environments are positioned as central to the histories of global economies, religions, and cultures.

DROUGHTS, FLOODS, AND GLOBAL CLIMATIC ANOMALIES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN WORLD (CHAM, CH: PALGRAVE)

2022: Refereed Edited Volume

This book explores histories of droughts and floods in the Indian Ocean World, and their connections to broader global climatic anomalies. It deploys an interdisciplinary approach rooted in the emerging field of climate history to investigate the multifaceted effects of global climatic anomalies on regions affected by the Indian Ocean Monsoon System – regularly conceived of as the macro-region’s ‘deep structure.’ Case studies explore how droughts and floods related to anomalous climatic conditions have historically affected states, societies, and ecologies across the Indian Ocean World, including in relation to food security, epidemic diseases, political (in)stability, economic change, infrastructural development, colonialism, capitalism, and scientific knowledge. Tracing longue durée patterns from the twelfth to the early twentieth centuries, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of global climatic events and their effects on the Indian Ocean World. It highlights essential historical case studies for contextualizing the potential effects of global warming on the macro-region in the present and future.

'ENSO, IOD, DROUGHT, AND FLOODS IN EQUATORIAL EASTERN AFRICA, 1876–1878'

2022: Refereed Book Chapter

In: Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World, ed. Philip Gooding (Cham, CH: Palgrave). This chapter investigates the effects of the 1876–1878 El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole on equatorial eastern Africa. The region under review comprises mainland regions of Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, broadly corresponding to the central caravan route that linked inland regions to the wider Indian Ocean World through the nineteenth-century global ivory trade. It begins by using missionary and limnological sources to reconstruct climate in the region during the event. Notwithstanding some regional variations, the sources suggest that widespread drought occurred in 1876, with floods occurring in 1877–1878. Such an assessment is in line with climatological models that project El Niño’s effect on the region’s climate. It then examines how this drought and subsequent floods affected the region’s history. In so doing, it links this global climatic anomaly to disrupted agriculture, an epidemic of smallpox, an epizootic of bovine trypanosomiasis, and political instability.

'INTRODUCTION: DROUGHTS, FLOODS, AND GLOBAL CLIMATIC ANOMALIES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN WORLD'

2022: Refereed Book Chapter

In: Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World, ed. Philip Gooding (Cham, CH: Palgrave). This introductory chapter sets out the thematic and methodological approaches taken in the remainder of the book. It argues that droughts and floods, triggered by global climatic anomalies associated with, for example, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole, volcanism, and sunspot activity, are crucial to the conception of the Indian Ocean World. It does so by engaging with the Braudelian concept of ‘deep structure.’ In Indian Ocean World Studies, this deep structure is the Indian Ocean monsoon system, which underpinned agriculture and thus the economy until at least c.1900 across the macro-region. But, while Braudel conceived of ‘deep structure’ as an almost unchanging environmental context in his study of the Mediterranean World, in the Indian Ocean World, changes occur regularly owing to the effects of global climatic anomalies on the monsoon system. The potential rapidity of ‘deep structure’ in Indian Ocean World studies, partly visible through an analysis of drought and flood events, represents a core rationale for this book.

'DAVID LIVINGSTONE, UNESCO, AND NATION-BUILDING IN 19TH-21ST-CENTURY SCOTLAND AND EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA'

2021: Refereed Journal Article

In: Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies, 5, 2: 243-69. This article assesses the role of David Livingstone (1813-73), a Scottish missionary, in nation-building efforts in Scotland and parts of the western Indian Ocean World. It begins by establishing the ways in which he became central to Scottish national, British imperial, Christian missionary, and abolitionist movements in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. It then examines why, despite these ‘colonialist’ associations, he remains central to some aspects of nation-building in present-day Tanzania and Malawi. The key focus in this context are these two nations’ respective applications to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to have museums and landmarks that centre Livingstone in their histories recognised as World Heritage sites. In so doing, it draws on regional concerns within the nations themselves, the prerogatives behind UNESCO’s activities on the African continent, and ongoing relationships between Scotland and (especially) Malawi. Despite current social movements that are increasingly vocal and critical of figures associated with colonialism, Livingstone remains revered and central to the nation among many in Scotland and East and Central Africa.

'REALITY AND REPRESENTATION OF EASTERN AFRICA’S PAST: ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY REDRESS THE ‘COAST-INLAND DICHOTOMY’'

2021: Refereed Journal Article

Co-authored with Jonathan Walz. In: African Studies Quarterly, 20, 4: 56-85. This article seeks to redress what the authors perceive as a coast-inland dichotomy in understandings of eastern Africa’s past. Through allowing aspects of highly problematic historical paradigms to persist, some of which are European in origin and date from the Victorian and colonial eras, and through adopting certain scholarly practices that reify rather than question such paradigms in spatial understandings of the region, archaeologists, historians, and scholars of cognate disciplines have emphasized difference and distance between coastal and inland areas of eastern Africa. The authors provide a framework for deconstructing this dichotomy at a vital time, during which Eurocentric and colonialist assumptions are coming under increased scrutiny. They do so by building on their respective research into the pasts of two inland areas: the Pangani (Ruvu) River Basin since c. 700 CE (Walz) and nineteenth-century Lake Tanganyika (Gooding). Although they draw on divergent scholarly training (Walz is trained primarily as an archaeologist; Gooding as a historian) both integrated methods more customarily associated with cultural anthropology, such as participant observation and oral interviews. Collectively, their research emphasizes entanglement and connectivity between coastal and inland areas. This article represents a call for further interdisciplinary research and collaborations, such as the one that supports this article, to examine additional ways in which the region’s pasts may be re-contextualized in space. Far from being “sibling rivals” as scholars a generation ago described the relationship between archaeologists and historians, scholars of such disciplines should see themselves as “sibling colleagues” working on the same endeavor. In this instance, the endeavor is an evidence-based redress of spatial paradigms whose roots have considerable links to Eurocentric and colonialist interpretations.

'TEACHING THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY IN WORLD HISTORY'

2021: Blog Post

In: Active History and cross-posted in NiCHE. I recently taught a remote, intensive Summer course entitled ‘Themes in World History’ at McGill University. This course was aimed mostly at second- and third- year undergraduate students. I chose as my theme ‘Climatic and environmental change.’ This provided me with many opportunities, one of which was to teach students a historical perspective on the current climate emergency. What follows is a description of the thought processes behind my course design and its objectives, as well as a reflection on its successes and shortcomings.

ANIMAL TRADE HISTORIES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN WORLD (CHAM, CH: PALGRAVE)

2020: Refereed Edited Volume

Co-edited with Martha Chaiklin and Gwyn Campbell.  An international array of established and emerging scholars investigate how the roles of equines, ungulates, sub-ungulates, mollusks, and avians expand our understandings of commerce, human societies, and world systems. Focusing primarily on the period 1500-1900, they explore how animals and their products shaped the relationships between populations in the IOW and Europeans arriving by maritime routes. By elucidating this fundamental yet under-explored aspect of encounters and exchanges in the IOW, these interdisciplinary essays further our understanding of the region, the environment, and the material, political and economic history of the world.

'THE IVORY TRADE AND POLITICAL POWER IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY EAST AFRICA.'

2020: Refereed Book Chapter

In: Animal Trade Histories in the Indian Ocean World, eds. Martha Chaiklin, Philip Gooding, and Gwyn Campbell (Cham, CH: Palgrave): 247-75. This chapter analyses ivory consumption and trade in the context of shifting political power in nineteenth-century East Africa. It firstly describes how increased demand for ivory and ivory products in the wider Indian Ocean World, Europe, and North America contributed to a decline in ivory’s ownership, usage, and display in East Africa. It then examines the nature and construction of Omani and coastal East African communities in East Africa’s interior to show how political power became increasingly tied to access and control the ivory trade. In nineteenth-century East Africa, ivory was transformed from a product with significant symbolic capital to one whose history was increasingly shaped by capitalistic forces.

'INTRODUCTION: INVESTIGATING ANIMALS, THEIR PRODUCTS, AND THEIR TRADES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN WORLD'

2020: Refereed Book Chapter

Co-authored with Martha Chaiklin. In: Animal Trade Histories in the Indian Ocean World, eds. Martha Chaiklin, Philip Gooding, and Gwyn Campbell (Cham, CH: Palgrave): 1-25. The introduction lays out the reasons for centring animals in a collection of histories that have commerce as a key feature, and examines how this approach informs understandings of the Indian Ocean World (IOW). It provides a sort of ‘entry tent’ to further historical understandings of the relationships between humans, animals, commerce, and world systems through consideration of the origins of animal studies, methodological opportunities and constraints, and recent developments in longue durée world histories in the context of human-environment and human-animal interaction. Animals are considered as central to conceptions of the IOW, and their histories speak to the robustness of IOW commercial networks in the period c.1500–1900.

 'TSETSE FLIES, ENSO, AND MURDER: THE CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY'S FAILED EAST AFRICAN OX-CART EXPERIEMENT OF 1876-78.'

2019: Refereed Journal Article

In: Africa: Rivista semestrale di studi e ricerche, N/S, 1, 2: 21-36. The failure of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) to implement the use of ox-carts in place of human porters in East Africa in 1876-78 is conventionally attributed to their misunderstanding of African peoples, environment, and diseases. This article contends that there were further factors, specific to the years of their attempt, that undermined the missionaries’ designs. These were, firstly, that heightened levels of rainfall, associated with an El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event alongside a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), expanded tsetse habitats and contributed to an epidemic of trypanosomiasis; and secondly, that the murder of CMS personnel on the southeastern shores of Lake Victoria necessitated the leader of the ox-cart experiment abandoning any designs on future attempts. There is evidence to suggest that missionaries could have implemented travel by ox-cart if they had made attempts at almost any time in the nineteenth century other than in 1876-78.

'ISLAM IN THE INTERIOR OF PRECOLONIAL EAST AFRICA: EVIDENCE FROM LAKE TANGANYIKA'

2019: Refereed Journal Article

In: The Journal of African History, 60, 2: 191-208. Most histories of East Africa's precolonial interior only give cursory attention to Islam, especially in histories of present-day west-central Tanzania and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Most converts to Islam in this context are usually viewed as ‘nominal’ Muslims. This article, by contrast, builds on recent scholarship on other regions and time periods that questions the conceptual validity of the ‘nominal’ Muslim. New converts necessarily questioned their social relationships, ways of living, and ritual practices through the act of conversion. On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, new converts were observable through the act of circumcision, dietary restrictions, abidance by some of Islam's core tenets, and the adoption and adaptation of certain phenomena from East Africa's Indian Ocean coast and islands. Interior populations’ conversion to Islam was bound up with broader coast-interior material, cultural, and religious exchanges.

'HISTORY, POLITICS, AND CULTURE IN CENTRAL TANZANIA'

2019: Refereed Journal Article

In: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History: 1-32. Central Tanzania is a heterogenous region in the interior of East Africa. Its history, politics, and cultures have been affected by numerous outside influences. These outside influences have primarily come in the form of migrants from elsewhere in the East African interior and the Western Indian Ocean world, and in the form of “proto-colonial,” colonial, and postcolonial governance structures, whose centers since the mid-19th century have been located in Tanzania’s coastal or island regions. Despite the apparent “newness” that each migrant group or governor instituted, Central Tanzania’s politics and cultures have shown a remarkable adaptability to new influences, whether that be to ivory traders arriving in the region during the 19th century or to colonial rulers attempting to govern it during the 20th. Additionally, Islam and Christianity have taken a variety of forms within Central Tanzania, none of which exactly correspond to the ideals of those who originally brought them to the region. The peoples of Central Tanzania have acculturated to outside influences and reconciled them with their preexisting and developing political and cultural structures.

'SLAVERY, ‘RESPECTABILITY,’ AND BEING ‘FREEBORN’ ON THE SHORES OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY LAKE TANGANYIKA'

2019: Refereed Journal Article

In: Slavery and Abolition, 40, 1: 147-67. Concepts of slavery and freedom dominate the historiography of labour and social relations in nineteenth-century East and Central Africa. This article argues that such concepts oversimplify the complexity of other forms of servitude. It does so by analysing the position of people who referred to themselves as ngwana on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Ngwana translates from Swahili as ‘gentlemen,’ and it implies ‘respectability’ and ‘freeborn’ status. Yet most ngwana could not claim to be free, even if they had ceased being slaves. Rather than freedom, ngwana sought ‘respect,’and in so doing blurred the lines between slavery and freedom.

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