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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 of African History and is currently a McCausland Faculty Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences. His work explores the intersection of technology and development in African history. It tackles a common stereotype about the continent’s past: that its societies lack development because they historically have not had the technology or knowledge societies in the Global North possess. Grace debunks this myth using hundreds of oral histories in Kiswahili, his apprenticeship in an automobile repair shop in Dar es Salaam, and archives in East Africa and the United Kingdom. His book, African Motors: Technology, Gender, and the History of Development in Tanzania (Duke University Press, October 2021), demonstrates that Africans have shaped car designs and motor vehicle culture since the early-1900s. That East African societies possess these cultures of mobility and mechanical expertise, he argues, should reshape assumptions about which societies possess useful knowledge for pursuing economic development or more sustainable societies. More info can be found at Duke University Press:

Grace will shortly pivot to two different book-length projects. “Cars After Socialism: Sustainability and Skill in Tanzanian Repair Shops,” will examine the impact of privatization policies on Tanzanian repair shops since the late-1970s. As global societies grapple with the environmental limits of car-based livelihoods, this project will explore the more sustainable livelihoods Tanzanian mechanics created during periods of shortage through reuse and modification. Grace has also already completed research for another book project titled, “Global Maroons: Slavery and Refuge in an Indian Ocean World History.” It comprises over 150 oral interviews of Zigula-speakers taken as slaves from present-day Tanzania to present-day Somalia around the turn of the nineteenth-century; they subsequently escaped and helped establish a large maroon community. Tentatively, it builds upon Neil Roberts’s theory about “freedom as marronage” by showing how nineteenth-century stories about slavery, escape, political formation, and conversion to Islam provided a template for Zigula communities to navigate colonial and post-colonial eras as well as their more recent diaspora to Kenya, Tanzania, and the United States through refugee resettlement.

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, and will begin teaching Science and Technology in World History in Spring 2022. His research has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies, Fulbright, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grace currently serves as the Director for the Latin American Studies Program and the African Studies Program for the Walker Institute for International and Area Studies and has just started a term as president for the Tanzanian Studies Association. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.