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Department of History


Josh Grace

Title: Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Department: History
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-2679
Office: Gambrell, Room 138
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]


  • B.A. Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Ph.D. Michigan State University


Dr. Joshua Grace (he/him/his) is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History. His work explores the intersection of technology and development in African history and aims to provide African-centered histories of both topics. His work has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Fulbright.

Grace’s first book, African Motors: Technology, Gender, and the History of Development in Tanzania (Duke University Press), was a finalist for the Bethwell A. Ogot Award for the African Studies Association (USA) in 2022. Rooted in hundreds of oral histories, his apprenticeship in an automobile repair shop in Dar es Salaam, and archives in East Africa and the United Kingdom, African Motors demonstrates that Africans have long shaped cultures of mobility, expertise, technology, and development. The book argues that this fact should reshape assumptions about which societies possess useful knowledge for pursuing economic development or more sustainable societies.

Grace has recently built on one of the core arguments of the book in a special issue of History and Anthropology. “Excremental Mobilities and Minimal Technopolitics: Toilets, Race, and Expulsion in Tanzania” examines the long-term impacts of an austere colonial technopolitics that unabashedly minimized the construction and maintenance of infrastructure.

Grace is currently working on three book projects. He will shortly begin writing, “Soccer’s Technology: What the Beautiful Game Tells Us About the Public Spaces We Do and Don’t Build.” Aimed at a public audience, the book begins with a core assumption about the relationship between soccer and streets: that multi-use, accessible streets played a central role developing the world’s best footballers. Or as Johan Cruyff put it, “When we were young, we could play in the street. You can’t play in the street anymore.” The book builds off this tension between good soccer and the closure of streets and other public spaces to explore the relationship between histories of open, accessible infrastructure and histories of soccer. The book will include material from the U.S., the U.K., and East Africa.

Grace is also currently co-editing and contributing to the Bloomsbury Cultural History volume, A Cultural History of Transport and Mobility in the Age of Mass Mobility. Recognizing the technological changes that extended networks of mobility around the world after 1945, the book will make the case that transnational political movements against colonialism, apartheid, and segregation put the masses in mass mobility in ways that technological changes could not. This book should be out in 2025.

Finally, Grace is working on a longer-term project that explores the history of technical Kiswahili through “how to” manuals published during the independent period. The book will explore the many technical forms of Kiswahili that have shaped skill acquisition for hundreds of years. A published example of this book’s argument can be found here.

Grace primarily teaches African history classes, including Introduction to African History, East Africa and the Indian Ocean, and Africa Since 1800. He also created and teaches, Sustainability in World History: From Early Times to the Anthropocene.

He would be happy to direct graduate student work on themes related to the History of Technology or Global and Comparative Histories.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.