Prof. Dr. Julia Tischler

Professorin für Geschichte Afrikas

Julia Tischler studied History and English at the University of Cologne and the University of Stirling (UK) and completed her doctorate in Cologne in 2011. Her PhD thesis examined the Kariba Dam on the border between today’s Zambia and Zimbabwe as a case study of development and state-building during the late colonial period. For her research, Julia Tischler travelled to Zambia, Malawi and the UK and spent a term as visiting PhD candidate at St Cross College in Oxford. The dissertation was honoured with the Hedwig Hintze Award of the Association of German Historians (VHD) in September 2012.

In 2011, Julia Tischler led the Junior Research Group ClimateWorlds, a collaborative investigation into local perceptions and consequences of climatic changes, at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS). Between 2012 and mid-2015, she was postdoc at the International Research Center “Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History” (re:work) at Humboldt University in Berlin. Julia Tischler joined the University of Basel in August 2015 as Tenure Track Assistant Professor.

Her current project looks at agricultural education in South Africa in the first half of the twentieth century. It analyzes different educational services set up during South Africa’s ‘agricultural revolution’ (agricultural colleges, extension services, journals etc.) as forms of rural social engineering by which state actors tried to navigate through rapid structural change. The study focusses on the connections between segregation and rural development, comparing state interventions and responses in the Afrikaans-dominated Orange Free State and the African reserves of the Ciskei and Transkei. As South Africans frequently looked to other nations – especially the USA – in dealing with both the ‘agrarian question’ and the ‘race question’, this project also adopts an ‘entangled’ perspective.


SNF grant for the project «Violent Encounters: Practices and Perceptions of Violence in Southern Namibia and the Northern Cape, c.1880-1910»

The four year-project contributes to the discussion of the role of violence in (settler) colonialism and debates on a 'shared' history of colonial violence. It reverts to an entangled perspective as well as concepts of frontier and borderland. Kai Herzog, previously holder of a BGSH starter scholarship, bases his research on a variety of oral, archival and printed sources.

SNF grant for the project «Blurring the Blue Line: African Police, Emergency and the Struggle for Independence in Colonial Northern Matabeleland, 1959-1980»

The four year-project investigates the different ways through which African police mediated the process of decolonisation during Zimbabwe’s state of emergency and war of liberation (1959-1980). Brian Ngwenya will conduct extensive archival research and interviews with contemporary witnesses.


  • Southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi) in the twentieth century
  • Colonialism, settler colonialism, decolonization
  • Development, agriculture, work and labour
  • Social history,  environmental history, global and entangled history

Mitgliedschaften und Ehrungen

  • Redakteurin für Geschichte Afrikas und Mitglied der Steuerungsgruppe von H-Soz-Kult (since February 2013)
  • European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH)
  • Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands (VHD)




Aktuelle Publikationen

Tischler, Julia: Education and the Agrarian question in South Africa c. 1900 - 40, in: The Journal of African History , 2016, S. 251-270.
Greschke, Heike M.; Tischler, Julia (Hg.): Grounding Global Climate Change : Contributions from the Social and Cultural Sciences, Dordrecht 2014. edoc

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