Mari Webel, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of History

Mari Webel is an historian of modern Africa and of health, with a research focus on the relationship between infectious diseases and political and social change in eastern and central Africa in the twentieth century.  Her current book project, Negotiated Interventions: Sleeping Sickness, Community, and Authority in East Africa 1890-1920, traces the history of epidemic sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) in three communities around Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, examining how past experiences of mitigating illness and misfortune and novel engagement with tropical medicine research and colonial public health shaped the ideas and practices of sleeping sickness control and prevention.  A separate project, Blind Spots: the Neglected Tropical Diseases in Post-Colonial Global Health, examines the rise of the “neglected tropical diseases” in post-colonial global health amid changing ideas about economic development, the advent of HIV/AIDS, and the increasing pharmaceuticalization of health in Africa.  She has published in the Journal of African History, Environmental History, and the International Journal of African Historical Studies. Her teaching centers on African history since circa 1800 and on wider comparative histories of health, illness, and the environment in Africa and globally.   Course offerings of relevance for the medical humanities include History of Global Hhealth (HIST 1091), Health Controversies in History (HIST 791), and History of Disease and Health in Modern Africa (HIST 1725).  She is an active participant in the African Studies Program and Global Studies Center.  Professor Webel received her PhD from Columbia University and received a post-doctoral fellowship in Global Health, Culture, & Society and African Studies at Emory University prior to joining the Pitt faculty in 2014.