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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. My research addresses gender, violence and conflict, nationalism, compared colonialisms, religion, and memory. In my research I have applied a range of approaches, notably gender history, 'new' colonial history, and historical anthropology. My research and my publications are rooted in extensive fieldwork which includes undertaking oral history interviews as well as archival studies in Africa.

Postgraduate supervision

Current supervision

  • Shingirai Hopkins – Decolonisation Through Transitional Justice: Land and Liberation in Zimbabwe; Insurgent Memories and Discourses of Democracy 2000-2008
  • 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
  • Francesca Baldwin (AHRC SWW DTP funded) – Gender, Militarism and Generational Legacies of War: Female Narratives of Civil Conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia
  • 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 1 Violence and Conflict in Twentieth Century Africa

Independent Study Supervision

Dissertation Supervision 

Research centres and groups

Selected publications

I have published widely on questions of violence, identity, and social cohesion. My monograph, Colonialism in Zimbabwe: A History of Suffering (James Currey, Oxford and Weaver Press, Harare/Zimba¬bwe), is a social history of the gendered experience of suffering and a micro-history of a frontier society, located on the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Currently, I am writing the biography of a hitherto unremembered Zimbabwean nationalist who spent most of the 1960s and 1970s in exile, in London. The objective is to tell the personal story of one man's aspirations realized within and against the opportunities that colonialism provided. More broadly, the project aims to provide a new understanding of politicisation, mobilisation, and belonging. This is part of a larger project on nationalism in Africa.

Impact and public engagement


  • Schmidt, H. (2004) Zimbabwe, Great. In: McNeill, W. , (eds.) Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History. Volume V. Berkshire Publishing Group , Great Barrington. pp. 2114-2117. ISBN: 974309109
  • Schmidt, H. (2004) Kongo. In: McNeill, W. , (eds.) Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History. Volume III. Berkshire Publishing Group , Great Barrington. pp. 1087-1090. ISBN: 974309109