Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies


I studied history, Oriental Studies and the teacher training at Ghent University (Belgium). I experienced this as three stages to becoming a historian: first I learned the craftmanship of the historian, then I was confronted with the fact that a historian (m/f/x) should not only take into account temporal but also spatial and cultural dimensions, and finally I learned that communicating self-acquired insights to others forces oneself to spell out exactly what one allegedly has already understood.

In a context where Belgium was slowly discovering its own colonial past, I could apply my three-stage education to African history. With a doctoral thesis on the Muslim communities of Bujumbura during the colonial period, I was able to familiarise myself with colonial, urban and Islamic history. I focused on local social history, on Belgian, German and British colonial history in East Central Africa, as well as on the Swahili, Islamic and Indian Ocean worlds.

After completing my PhD, I conducted policy-related peace research in Brussels for four years. In an interdisciplinary field and in a city where the multiple bodies of a federal state, the European Union and NATO are located, I faced both the potentials and the limitations of a historian: you need history to understand complexity, but some fast-ticking contexts are more conducive to reducing complexity. I discovered what makes me a historian for the fourth time, and for the first time the challenge of connecting with non-historians.

In 2010, I moved to Leipzig, where I worked at the Institute for African Studies, the Centre for Area Studies and the Research Centre Global Dynamics. Until 2015, I was involved in a BMBF-funded project on area studies and from 2016 onwards in a DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre on Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition (SFB 1199).

In between, I was the Acting Professor of African History at the Universiteit Gent in 2015-2016. In 2022 I was habilitated at the Faculty of History, Arts and Regional Studies at Leipzig University with a thesis on the global urban history of Kigoma-Ujiji (venia legendi History of the 19th to 21st centuries) and also in 2022 I was a visiting scholar at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Oxford.

I have taught in Germany, Belgium, Burundi and Ethiopia in German, English, Dutch and French in BA, MA and PhD programmes and in African Studies, History and Global Studies. I care about combining hermeneutic storytelling with historical scholarship, confronting the understanding of the past with questions from the present, and making history understandable whilst learning from it myself.


Professional career

since 08/2023 Substitute Professor for the History of Africa at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute for Asian and African Studies
since 11/2022  Private lecturer at the Faculty of History, Arts and Regional Studies at Leipzig University
since 02/2016 research associate (postdoc) and lecturer at Leipzig University, SFB 1199 "Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition”
11/2022 - 12/2022 Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (hosted by Professor Miles Larmer)
10/2022 Visiting Scholar at the University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classics and Archaeology (hosted by Professor Emma Hunter)
10/2015 - 09/2016 Substitute Professor of African History at Ghent University, Department of History
04/2010 - 09/2015 research assistant (postdoctoral researcher) and lecturer at Leipzig University, Centre for Area Studies
04/2010 - 09/2013 Researcher (Postdoctoral Fellow) and Lecturer at Leipzig University, Institute for African Studies
05/2006 - 02/2010 Researcher at the Flemish Peace Institute (Vlaams Vredesinstituut), Brussels
12/1999 - 04/2006 PhD student / research assistant and teaching assistant in African History at Ghent University, Institute of Modern and Contemporary History



11/2022 Habilitation at the Faculty of History, Arts and Regional Studies at Leipzig University (venia legendi: History of the 19th-21st century)
03/2017 Certificate in Higher Education Didactics, Centre for Higher Education Didactics Saxony, Leipzig
07/2006 PhD in History, Ghent University
09/2000 M.A. in Oriental Studies, Ghent University
07/1999 Teacher training in History, Ghent University
09/1997 M.A. in History, Ghent University