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Biography

I trained as a History and Geography teacher and taught in France, China, Guinea and England. From 2008 to 2012, I undertook a PhD on the history of Borno, Nigeria at the University of Leeds. From January to June 2013, I was a Leverhulme Teaching fellow at the University of Leeds and joined the History Department at King's College London in September 2013. While on research leave in 2017/8, I was a visiting lecturer at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • African History
  • Archives
  • Borders
  • Borno
  • Cartography
  • Digital Humanities
  • Nigeria
  • World History

My first book A History of Borno: Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2017) engages in the history of West Africa with a particular focus on the historical continuity of territories and borders of Borno, a region located on the Nigerian shores of Lake Chad. I am also profoundly interested in cartography not only the studying of maps but also their creation. You can have a look at my website to see some of my Digital Humanities projects.

I have just finished writing a book called Beyond Boko Haram which will be published by Plon in 2019.

I currently supervise two PhD students: Femi Owolade (The British colonisation of Nigeria and the transformation of the judiciary in Kano Emirate, 1903-1979) and Abdul Wando (Community-Centred approaches to Countering the effects of Boko Haram and Violent Religious Extremism).

Teaching

I am specialised in African History and have already taught survey modules on the history of Africa since 1700, on the history of colonial Algeria or on world history in general. 

I have also analysed in depth with my students books such as Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom or Roger Chartier’s, The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution.

I have recently developed a Level 6 course on the history of colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. In this module, students assess the social and economic consequences of colonisation, examine the history of ethnic and religious strife (for example Boko Haram) and understand concepts such as corruption, military coups, poor governance or failed state.

Expertise and Public Engagement

My research deals with Borno, a territory located in North-Eastern mainly known in the media as the cradle of terrorist Islamist group, Boko Haram. My next monograph will analyse the history of this fascinating region through interviews I have conducted myself.


In 2014, I co-founded a blog called Africa4 for the French newspaper Libération. With more than 500,000 unique visitors in four years, our blog has reached a wide audience in France but also in many French-speaking countries in Africa.

In 2017, I started working with Dr Toby Green and a team of specialists of African History on a textbook for West African students.

With the help of Dr Geoffrey Browell, Head of Archives Services at King’s College London, I am also developing an online catalogue for the National Archives of Madagascar.