Derek R. Peterson

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Derek R. Peterson (born 1971) is an American historian specializing in the cultural history of East Africa. He is currently a professor of history and African studies at the University of Michigan.[1]

He was the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant" in 2017.[2][3][4][5][6]

Education and career[edit]

Born May 13, 1971, Peterson is from Maine, New York and attended Maine–Endwell High School.[7] He studied history and political science at the University of Rochester, graduating in 1993. His interest in African studies was sparked by a trip to Kenya in his sophomore year, and at Rochester he studied under African scholars Elias Mandala and Sam Nolutshungu. After graduating, he was awarded a Fulbright grant to study in Kenya for a year. He then went on to the University of Minnesota, studying with Allen Isaacman, and obtained his PhD in 2000.[8]

Peterson taught at the College of New Jersey between 2000 and 2004.[2] Between 2004 and 2009 he was the director of Centre for African Studies at the University of Cambridge,[9] where he edited a series of monographs on African studies,[10] and initiated an academic exchange programme between Cambridge and universities in Africa.[9] He took a position at the University of Michigan in 2009, joining its newly founded African Studies Center (ASC).[4]

Peterson has been a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute,[11] was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2016,[12] and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016.[13] He won the African Studies Association's 2013 Hersokovits Prize for his book Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival.[14]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival: A History of Dissent. Cambridge University Press. 2012.
  • Creative Writing: Translation, Bookkeeping, and the Work of Imagination in Colonial Kenya. Heinemann. 2004.

Edited volumes[edit]

  • Peterson, Derek R.; Hunter, Emma; Newell, Stephanie, eds. (2016). African Print Cultures: Newspapers and their Publics in Modern Africa. University of Michigan Press.
  • —; Gavua, Kodzo; Rassool, Ciraj, eds. (2015). The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures. Cambridge University Press.
  • —, ed. (2010). Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa and the Atlantic. Ohio University Press.
  • —; Macola, Giacomo, eds. (2009). Recasting the Past: History-Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa. Ohio University Press.
  • —; Wolhof, Darren, eds. (2002). The Invention of Religion: Rethinking Belief in Politics and History. Rutgers University Press.


  1. ^ "Derek Peterson". U-M LSA Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS). University of Michigan. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  2. ^ a b "MacArthur Fellows Program – Derek Peterson". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  3. ^ Jaschik, Scott (2017-10-11). "Academics Among 'Genius' Grant Winners". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  4. ^ a b "Two University Of Michigan Professors Awarded MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grants'". CBS Detroit. 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  5. ^ "University of Michigan professors earn $625K MacArthur 'genius grants'". 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  6. ^ Hiyama, Andrew (2017-10-11). "University professors awarded 2017 MacArthur genius grants". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Katie (2017-10-11). "M-E grad Derek Peterson named MacArthur Genius Award winner". Pressconnects. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  8. ^ Knispel, Sandra (2017-10-11). "University alumnus wins MacArthur 'genius grant'". NewsCenter. University of Rochester. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  9. ^ a b "Revitalising research in Africa". Research News. University of Cambridge. 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  10. ^ "Cambridge Centre of African Studies Series". Ohio University Press. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  11. ^ "Derek Peterson". Kellogg Institute For International Studies. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  12. ^ "Professor Derek Peterson". British Academy. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  13. ^ "Derek R. Peterson". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  14. ^ "Derek R. Peterson". African Studies Association. 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-12-22.

External links[edit]