Professor of African History, Michigan State University

I am a social historian of late 19th- and 20th-century South Africa. My work focuses on the relationship between popular culture and politics, especially football (soccer). I’m the author of Laduma! Soccer, Politics & Society in South Africa and African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game, and co-editor (with Chris Bolsmann) of Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space and South Africa and the Global Game. I’ve also published articles and chapters in scholarly journals and edited collections. Currently, I am co-editing a special issue of Radical History Review (“Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sports”), and conducting research for a book on digital African history and another on community beauty pageants in apartheid South Africa.

I teach surveys and seminars on South Africa, Africa, and global football, and supervise several PhD students. I am a past winner of MSU’s Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities and the Sullivan Teaching Excellence Award. In 2010 I was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where I gave the 17th Alan Paton Memorial Lecture.

As Director of Digital History Projects at Matrix, I’m deeply engaged in digital scholarship. I host the Africa Past and Present podcast with Peter Limb; blog at Footballiscominghome; and convene the Football Scholars Forum, which I co-founded. I am Editor-in-Chief of the new “African History and Culture Series” at Michigan State University Press; Editorial Board member at the International Journal of African Historical Studies and African Studies; and book review editor for Soccer and Society.

Local, national, and international media appearances include: National Public Radio, BBC, France24, Radio France International, SABC, Radio Democracy (Senegal), China Radio International, TBSeFM (South Korea), Monocle 24 Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Time, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, National Geographic, Le Monde, Liberation, Il Messaggero, El Siglo de Europa, Veja, among others.


  • –present
    Professor of History , Michigan State University