I joined the history faculty of UNC as an assistant professor in the fall of 2012. After growing up in Corvallis, Oregon, I received my BA in Literature from Connecticut College and my MA in History from the University of Delaware. I attended the University of Texas at Austin for my PhD where my work focused on Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam and its dramatically changing environment during the first three decades of the nation’s independence. I am currently working on my first book manuscript tentatively entitled ‘Going to the Ground’: an Environmental History of Urban Crisis in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. My work connects changes in the landscape of the expanding city with emerging political debates surrounding the city’s failure to provide environmental services and more general debates about the role of the state and the urban citizen. For example, in a forthcoming article I discuss how both citizens and the state were forced to reevaluate their perspectives on dirt, waste and trash as Dar es Salaam’s sanitation services failed to keep up with urban growth. Like many cities in Africa today, Dar's citizens have often been left with the task of articulating the shape of urban growth, rendering a complex cityscape that is both chaotic and often surprisingly well-organized.
In addition to my work on urban Africa, I am also interested in global and transnational environmental histories. I have written two articles on international waste trading; one of them was published in the journal Environmental History in 2011 while the other will be included in a volume of essays on transnational environmental history forthcoming from Oxford University Press this year. Currently I am teaching courses on African civilization and modern Africa. I always look forward to working with students who have interests in environmental, urban and transnational issues in addition to African history.
During the spring 2013 semester, Professor Brownell is teaching:
HIST 110: African Civilization
HIST 450: Colonial Africa