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Department of History

Staff Profile

Professor Justin Willis

Professor (Modern African History) in the Department of History
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41073

(email at

Justin Willis' work has been largely concerned with identity, authority and social change in eastern Africa over the last two hundred years. Much of his recent work has focussed on Sudan and the Kenya coast. His current research is primarily concerned with the history of elections, and he is working with colleagues from Warwick and Oxford on a major ESRC-funded project, ‘The impact of elections: voting, political behaviour and democracy in sub-Saharan African’.

From 2006 to 2009 Professor Willis was seconded from Durham to serve as Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, in Nairobi.

Areas of Postgraduate Supervision

Professor Willis has supervised doctoral students working on various aspects of modern eastern African history, and British imperial history relating to Africa. Currently he has students working on the history of local government in Kenya; British policy towards Kenya from 1963 to 1980, southern Sudanese migrants in Khartoum in the late twentieth century; the history of development policy; and ethnicity in northern Uganda in the twentieth century. Prospective students who would like to discuss ideas for doctoral research are very welcome to contact him.

Research Interests

  • Electoral history
  • Modern East Africa
  • Sudan in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • The social history of alcohol in Africa


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)


Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Africa: Modern history and politics of eastern Africa, with a particular focus on elections. The social and economic history of alcohol in Africa.