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Heike Schmidt


Director of Dissertations

Areas of interest

My passion for Africa began during a study abroad year at the University of Zimbabwe. I have since become a historian of modern Africa, with my area of specialty being the history of Southern as well as East Africa, in particular Zimbabwe and Tanzania in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have always had a decolonising approach to my research, teaching, and to my citizenship at my workplace. Currently, I am shifting my research agenda - not least taking accountability for my own positionality as a white European historian of African lives - to race and white privilege. My research and my publications are rooted in extensive fieldwork which includes undertaking oral history interviews as well as archival studies in Africa.

  • gender
  • violence & conflict
  • race & white privilege
  • nation & nationalism
  • compared colonialisms
  • religion
  • memory

Postgraduate supervision

Current supervision

  • Richard Balzano - Oil, Aid, and Human Rights: U.S.-Guatemalan Relations and the Political Economy of National Interest, 1979-1983
  • Noel Mutasa - Decrypting the single narrative of Zimbabwe’s liberation history: An erudite revisit of Ndabaningi Sithole, the Nhari Rebellion, Mgagao Declaration and the Vashandi Group, 1974 to 1979
  • Shepherd Mutswiri - A Negotiated settlement: Faith, Nationalism, and Women’s Political Imagination in the Decolonisation of Zimbabwe, 1960 to 1980

Previous supervision

  • Bethany Rebisz (AHRC SWW DTP funded)- Losing the Hearts and Minds: The Role of Aid in Counter-Insurgency Warfare in Kenya, 1952-1960

Postgraduate research teaching/skills

I welcome PhD students in Modern African History. I encourage especially those intending to research Southern or East Africa who are interested in gender or conflict.



Foundation Year – Contribution to Presenting and Representing

Part One Option - The Rwanda Genocide of 1994

Part Two Option - The Colonial Experience, Africa 1879 to 1980

Part Three Topic - Africa from European Settlement to Nelson Mandela (South Africa and Zimbabwe)

Part Three Subject - Gender in Africa

Part Three Dissertation Supervision

Postgraduate MA (postgraduate taught)

Option: Violence and Conflict in Twentieth Century Africa

Theory and Themes: Postcolonial History

Independent Study Supervision

Dissertation Supervision 

Research centres and groups

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Selected publications


Impact and public engagement

Television interviews – Al Jazeera ‘Inside Story’, France 24, ITV ‘Good Morning Britain’, ORF (Austria), 3SAT (Germany), Sky News, TRT World.

Radio interviews – LBC.

The Conversation articles


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