Justin Willis was seconded to the position of Director from the University of Durham, in the United Kingdom, where he is Reader in History. Justin has a long involvement with BIEA, having been a graduate attachee in 1986, and Assistant Director from 1989 to 1997.
Justin has a long-standing interest in the history and culture of the Kenya coast, and particularly of the Mijikenda; his first book (Mombasa, the Swahili and the Making of the Mijikenda (Oxford, 1993)) was an examination of labour migration and ethnicity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He has also worked on ethnicity in north-eastern Tanzania and pastoralist-agriculturalist relations in south-western Uganda. From 1997 to 2000 he undertook ESRC-funded research on the social history of alcohol in East Africa (published as Potent Brews (Nairobi and Oxford, 2002)). From 2001-2006 Justin’s teaching and research focussed on the modern history of Sudan, and particularly on the nature of governmental authority there. While at BIEA Dr Willis conducted a number of research projects, most notably a cultural history of elections in eastern Africa.