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Dr. Samuël Coghe


Friedrich Meinecke Institut

Global History

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (DFG 'Eigene Stelle')

Colonial and Global History, History of Knowledge, African History

Koserstraße 20
Raum A 392
14195 Berlin


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Samuël Coghe is PI of the Research Project Commodifying Cattle. The Transformation of Livestock Economies and Knowledge Regimes in the French Colonial Empire, 1890-1960 funded by the DFG (German Research Council). He joined the Freie Universität Berlin in August 2019. He holds a PhD in History from the European University Institute in Florence (2014) and worked as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and at the University of Gießen. During the academic year 2018-2019 he was Visiting Professor and Interim Chair of African History at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Samuël Coghe works on colonial and African history from transnational and global perspectives and with a particular focus on the history of knowledge. His research has dealt with the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and on the history of Portuguese colonialism, mainly in Angola, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with special attention to the history of colonial medicine, demography and anthropology and on transimperial flows of knowledge and practices. His publications include articles in peer-reviewed international journals such as Slavery and Abolition, Social History of Medicine, Journal of Contemporary History and Portuguese Studies Review. While continuing his interest in Lusophone Africa, he has recently also turned to the history of French and Belgian colonialism. His current research engages with the history of pastoralism, veterinary science and cattle economies in French colonial Africa and Asia, which he analyses from a global history perspective.

His work has been supported by various scholarships and travel stipends, most notably from the German Historical Institute in Paris, the Belgian Foreign Ministry, the European University Institute in Florence and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

His book Population Politics in the Tropics. Demography and Health in Colonial Angola, 1890s-1940s is under contract with Cambridge University Press and will be published at the end of 2021. It analyses how colonial discourses about population decline were intertwined with a range of medical interventions and spatial policies aimed at enhancing the quantity and quality of the ‘native’ population.

Summer Term 2019 (all Humboldt University Berlin, Institute of Asian and African Studies)

Colonialism and Agriculture in Africa: Between Local Practices and Global Commodities (MA Seminar for MA in African Studies and MA in Global History)

African Therapeutic Practices, Colonial Medicine and Global Health: The Global History of Health and Healing in Africa (MA Seminar)

Die Geschichte des Sklavenhandels und der Sklaverei in der Atlantischen Welt (16.-19. Jahrhundert) (BA Seminar)

Abschlusskolloquium Geschichte Afrikas (BA/MA)

Afrikakolloquium (BA/MA)

Winter Term 2018-19 (all Humboldt University Berlin, Institute of Asian and African Studies)

Introduction to African History (MA Seminar)

Geschichte Afrikas: the Basics (BA Seminar)

Situiertes Wissen: Einführung in die Methodenvielfalt in den Regionalwissenschaften (BA/MA Ringseminar)

Südliches Afrika bis zum 21. Jahrhundert (BA Seminar)

Abschlusskolloquium Geschichte Afrikas (BA/MA)

Winter Term 2016-17         

Kapitalismus und Kolonialismus. Eine verflochtene Geschichte [Capitalism and Colonialism. An Entangled History] (BA Seminar)

(History Department, Justus Liebig University, Giessen)

Winter Term 2013-14         

(with Dr. Christoph Kalter:) Kolonialgeschichten. Frankreich und Portugal in Afrika (ca. 1870-1975) [Colonial Histories. France and Portugal in Africa, ca. 1870-1975] (BA/MA Seminar)

(History Department, Free University Berlin)


BA and MA theses supervised by Samuël Coghe (with link to PDF)

Main Research Interests:

African History, Colonial History (mainly Portuguese, French and Belgian), Transnational and Global History, History of Knowledge, Social History of Medicine, History of Demography, Rural and Agricultural History, History of Capitalism, Commodity History

Current Research Project:

Commodifying Cattle. Transforming Livestock Economies and Knowledge Regimes in the French Colonial Empire, 1890-1960 (funded by the German Research Council, DFG, since August 2019)

This project explores the policies towards cattle and cattle pastoralists in the French colonial Empire in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The project examines how in various French colonies, most notably in French West Africa, Madagascar and Indochina, administrators, veterinary doctors and other experts came to see cattle as a key economic resource that needed to be harnessed through a series of interventions aimed at promoting commodification, raising productivity and ultimately transforming the pre-existing cattle economies. By analysing these interventions, which ranged from the improvement of local breeds and new methods of cattle disease management to the taxation of cattle, the sedentarization of cattle pastoralists and the establishment of new cattle trading networks and meat factories, this project contributes to various fields of research, most notably colonial history, the history of science and knowledge, economic history and environmental history. While it will shed new light on the multiple tensions, conflicts as well as transformative effects which the imposition of colonial and capitalist logics on rural, especially pastoralist, societies and their environments entailed, it will also enhance our understanding of the role of science and knowledge in French colonial projects of agrarian reform and socio-economic modernization. Through its geographical focus on French West Africa, Madagascar and Indochina, it connects regions that are rarely studied together and that, along with the analysis of their transnational connections, promise to provide a more global view on French colonialism.


Population Politics in the Tropics. Demography and Health in Colonial Angola (contracted with Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021).


Edited Books

(As part of the) Population Knowledge Network (Ed.), Twentieth Century Population Thinking. A Critical Reader in Primary Sources. London/New York: Routledge 2016 (Paperback 2017).


Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

‘Disease Control and Public Health in Colonial Africa’, in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, ed. by Thomas Spears, Oxford University Press, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.620 [42pp.] (published 19 November 2020).

‘Sleeping Sickness Control and the Transnational Politics of Mass Chemoprophylaxis in Portuguese Colonial Africa’, in: Portuguese Studies Review 25.1 (2017), pp. 57-89.

‘Reordering Colonial Society. Model Villages and Social Planning in Rural Angola, 1920-1945’, in: Journal of Contemporary History 52.1 (2017), pp. 16-44.

‘Tensions of Colonial Demography. Depopulation Anxieties and Population Statistics in Interwar Angola’, in: Contemporanea. Rivista di storia dell'800 e del '900 18.3 (2015), pp. 472-478.

‘Inter-Imperial Learning and African Health Care in Portuguese Angola in the Interwar Period’, in: Social History of Medicine 28.1 (2015), pp. 134-154.

‘The Problem of Freedom in a Mid Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Slave Society. The Liberated Africans of the Anglo-Portuguese Mixed Commission in Luanda (1844-1870)’, in: Slavery and Abolition 33.3 (2012), pp. 479-500.

‘Apprenticeship and the Negotiation of Freedom. The Liberated Africans of the Anglo-Portuguese Mixed Commission in Luanda (1844-1870)’, in: Africana Studia 14 (2010), pp. 255-273.


Book Chapters

‘Reassessing Portuguese Exceptionalism: Racial Concepts and Colonial Policies toward the “Bushmen” in Southern Angola, 1880s–1970s’, in: Anderson, Warwick; Roque, Ricardo and Ventura Santos, Ricardo (eds.): Luso-tropicalism and Its Discontents. The Making and Unmaking of Racial Exceptionalism, New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books 2019, pp. 184-214.

‘Medical Demography in Interwar Angola. Measuring and Negotiating Health, Reproduction and Difference’, in: Widmer, Alexandra and Lipphardt, Veronika (eds.), Health and Difference. Rendering Human Variation in Colonial Engagements. New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books 2016, pp. 178-204.

(together with Alexandra Widmer:) ‘Colonial Demography. Discourses, Rationalities, Methods’, in: Population Knowledge Network (eds.), Twentieth Century Population Thinking. A Critical Reader in Primary Sources. London/New York: Routledge 2016, pp. 37-64.

‘Siedlungsvorgänge im südlichen Portugal und im Königreich Jerusalem im 12. und 13. Jahrhundert. Einige Strukturmerkmale im Vergleich’, in: Brauer, Michael; Rychterová, Pavlína; Wihoda, Martin (eds.), Die mittelalterliche Kolonisation. Vergleichende Untersuchungen. Prag: Zentrum für Mediävistische Studien 2009, pp. 35-62.


Working Papers

‘Extending the Pastoral Frontier. The Introduction of Cattle Farming in French Equatorial Africa during Late Colonialism’ (Commodities of Empire Working Paper No. 28), June 2017 (https://commoditiesofempire.org.uk/publications/working-papers/working-paper-28/)


Book Reviews

- Ehlers, Sarah: Europa und die Schlafkrankheit. Koloniale Seuchenbekämpfung, europäische Identitäten und moderne Medizin 1890‐1950. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2019, rezensiert für Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists, 26.06.2020

- Domingues da Silva, Daniel B.: The Atlantic Slave Trade from West Central Africa, 1780–1867. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2017, rezensiert für H‐Soz‐Kult, 05.03.2020

- McVety, Amanda Kay: The Rinderpest Campaigns. A Virus, Its Vaccines, and Global Development in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2018, rezensiert für H‐Soz‐u‐Kult, 10.01.2020

- Seibert, Julia: In die globale Wirtschaft gezwungen. Arbeit und kolonialer Kapitalismus im Kongo (1885‐1960), Frankfurt/New York: Campus 2016, rezensiert für H‐Soz‐u‐Kult, 20.01.2017

- Neill, Deborah J.: Networks in Tropical Medicine. Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890–1930. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2012, rezensiert für H‐Soz‐u‐Kult, 04.10.2012

- Ittmann, Karl; Cordell, Dennis D.; Maddox, Gregory H. (Hg.): The Demographics of Empire. The Colonial Order and the Creation of Knowledge. Ohio: Ohio University Press 2010, rezensiert für H‐Soz‐u‐Kult, 27.09.2011


Forum: Corona‐Lektüre ‐ Samuël Coghe über M. Lyons und G. Lachenal, in: H‐Soz‐Kult, 04.06.2020. http://www.hsozkult.de/debate/id/diskussionen‐4998

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