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Dr Toby Green

Dr Toby Green

Dr Toby GreenSenior Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1741
Address Department of History and Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
King’s College London
Virginia Woolf Building 5.28

London WC2R 2LS


After studying Philosophy, Toby Green worked as a writer and editor, publishing various books that have been translated into 12 languages. He then studied for his PhD at the Centre of West African Studies at Birmingham University, working with Paulo de Moraes Farias and completing in 2007, before coming to King's in 2010.

After holding fellowships from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, in 2015 he was recipient of a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, for which he organised an interdisciplinary workshop with the musicologist Lucy Duran, bringing musicians and historians from West Africa into dialogue.

He has also been PI of research projects funded by the AHRC, British Library, European Union, and the Leverhulme Trust, and was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for History in 2017. He has organised events in collaboration with institutions in Angola, Brazil, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. 

Research interests and PhD supervision

I aim to cross historiographical and geographical frontiers and to reconstruct the historical experiences of peoples who have been systematically written out of conventional historical narratives. I am primarily a historian of West Africa, and my work seeks to contribute towards a refocussing of the understanding of modern history by grasping the active roles of West Africans in shaping both global histories as well as local West African ones.

I want to include these stories in the historical narratives of the early modern period, when indigenous peoples around the world confronted European colonialism, and contributed to the development of many new ideas in ways which have often been passed over by historians. Working in the "Global North", I seek also to work actively to reorient the privileges of academic power through collaborating with colleagues in the "Global South". I am currently active in collaborative projects with colleagues in Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.

My research interests are broadly structured around West African engagement with the early Atlantic world through a number of themes, including economic change, cultural transformations, and slavery. I am currently writing a book on precolonial West Africa's relations with world history through the lens of exchanges of money and power.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Trans-Saharan and Trans-Atlantic Diasporas
  • The history of race and slavery in the Atlantic
  • Creolization
  • Connections between the precolonial, the colonial and the postcolonial state in Africa
  • African economic history and its intersection with world economic history
  • Cultural and economic links between Brazil and Africa, 16th-19th centuries

Current PhD supervision:

  • Dorothee Boulanger: The Use of Fiction as Historical Source in Postcolonial Angola
  • Joseph da Costa: Empire and Environmental Thought: Portuguese Humanism and the Creation of Universal Categories in the 16th Century
  • Vincent Nadeau: African Origins of the Cuban Revolution

For more details, please see his full research profile.

Selected publications

Guinea-Bissau: From Micro State to ‘Narco State’. (C. Hurst & Co./Oxford University Press, May 2016)

“Africa and the Price Revolution: Currency Imports and Socioeconomic Change in West And West-Central Africa During the 17th Century”, Journal of African History, 57/1 (2016), 1-24.

“Beyond an Imperial Atlantic: Trajectories of Africans From Upper Guinea and West-Central Africa in the Early Atlantic World", Past and Present 230 (Feb 2016), 91-122.

The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589. (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Brokers of Change: Atlantic Commerce and Cultures in Pre-Colonial Western Africa (Oxford University Press, for the British Academy: 2012).

“Building Slavery in the Atlantic World: Atlantic Connections and the Changing Institution of Slavery in Cabo Verde, 15th-16th Centuries”, Slavery and Abolition 32/2, 2011, 227-45:

For a complete list of publications, please see Toby's full research profile.

Expertise and public engagement

Toby Green is the Lead Consultant for the new OCR A Level History Option "African Kingdoms, 1400-1800", having written the accompanying ebook, and is a member of the OCR Consultative Forum for History. He has written widely for the national press, and has reviewed for The Independent, The London Review of Books and the TLS. He is also lead coordinator of a new online textbook funded by the AHRC for West African schoolchildren for the WASSCE exam in History, working with a team of historians from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

He has participated in collaborative projects with institutions including the Anneaux de la Memoire (Nantes), the British Library, and the National Centre for Arts and Culture in The Gambia. He is Chair of the Fontes Historiae Africanae Committee of the British Academy, and the Honorary Treasurer of the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK).

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