Department of History

Mari Webel

  • Associate Professor
  • 2019 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship Recipient


Modern Africa (especially East Africa and the Great Lakes region)
History of Health and Disease
Environmental History
Imperialism and Colonialism


History of Africa since 1800 
History of Africa before 1800 
History of Medicine and Public Health
Environmental History
History of Global Health

Education & Training

  • PhD, Columbia University, 2012

Representative Publications

“Parasites and Priorities: The Early Evolution of “Neglected Disease” Initiatives and the History of a Global Health Agenda.” Medical Humanities 48, 2 (Jun 2022): 177-189.

The Politics of Disease Control: Sleeping Sickness in Eastern Africa, 1890-1920 (New African Histories Series, Ohio University Press, 2019)

“Mapping the Infected Landscape: Colonial Knowledge, African Labor, and Sleeping Sickness Prevention in the Early Twentieth Century,” Environmental History, Forum: “From ‘Natural’ to ‘Artificial’ Disease Environments: Technology, Ecology and Human Health 1850-2010,” (2015).

“Ziba Politics and the German Sleeping Sickness Camp at Kigarama, Tanzania, 1907-14,” International Journal of African Historical Studies, Special Edition on the History of Medicine in East Africa (2014). 

“Medical Auxiliaries and the Negotiation of Public Health in Colonial Northwestern Tanzania,” Journal of African History 54:3 (2013).

Research Interests

My book, The Politics of Disease Control: Sleeping Sickness in Eastern Africa, 1890–1920, is a history of African politics and colonial public health, focusing on sleeping sickness at Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika.  

A second project examines the emergence of the “neglected tropical diseases” (NTDs) as an operative and imaginative category in global health, with specific reference to the experiences of African patients and communities, as well as transnational researchers, in the past 40 years.