Associate Professor of History Dr. Michelle Moyd settles into campus life at MSU

By: Patti McDonald 

Associate Professor of History Dr. Michelle Moyd joined the Michigan State University History Department in the fall of 2022 as a Red Cedar Distinguished Professor.   

MSU established the title of Red Cedar Distinguished Professor in fall 2022 and awards it to selected current and new faculty to assist in the recruitment, recognition, and retention of outstanding faculty at all academic ranks, with the primary aim of enhancing the stature of the institution in research and creative activity.  

The Office of Innovation’s website states: “the award of the title will be made to individuals who combine externally recognized, exemplary scholarly accomplishment and/or potential, with clear professional relevance to specific areas of MSU scholarly need, disciplinary development, or research or creative emphasis. Consideration will also include the candidate’s teaching innovation and excellence. 

Dr. Moyd said she is proud to be a part of MSU’s History Department because she’s always admired the institution.  

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for MSU,” Moyd said. “In my field of African History, MSU is a leading institution, and a place where many exciting initiatives were happening. When I was recruited, I knew MSU would be a place where I could continue to expand my career and be more integrated into an African History and African Studies community and faculty. I already knew some of the faculty in the history department too, so the combination of all that made MSU a great fit for me.” 

A historian of eastern Africa, Moyd teaches courses in African History. She has also taught courses on World War I, the history of soldiers and veterans, and the history of humanitarianism. 

Moyd’s main research focus is on African soldiers, warfare in Eastern Africa, and the history of Africa and World War I. 

In her first book, Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa (Ohio University Press, 2014), she explores the social and cultural history of African soldiers in the colonial army of German East Africa, today’s Tanzania.  

This semester, Moyd is teaching two courses: Integrative Social Science 330A: Africa and the Social Sciences and HST 484: Seminar in African History.  

“ISS 330A’s theme is African environmental histories and activism,” she said. “HST 484 is a senior seminar, exploring war and militarization in African History.” 

She is currently working on her second book project,: Africa, Africans, and the First World War, which examines the spectrum of African experiences in the war, especially as soldiers and workers.    

“Because German East Africa played a key role and was one of the main campaigns that was fought in World War I, I became very interested in that and thinking more broadly about Africans and Africa in World War I.” 

In addition to writing her book, Moyd also edits the Journal of African History (JAH). She also holds several editorial advisory roles with the journal First World War Studies; with the series Ohio Short Histories of Africa at Ohio University Press; at Elements of Modern Warfare at Cambridge University Press; and Studies in the Cultural History of Modern Warfare at Cambridge University Press. 

She is also involved in many different projects, including researching the impacts of war and violence on Africans.  

“I am currently working on a project that looks at the history of photography during a German colonial war fought in 1905–1907 and trying to think about how violence against African people was captured in photography, often in ways that might not be noticeable at first glance.” 

“I have also written about the intersection between military history and African history. My work addresses issues such as why African military history continues to be sidelined in mainstream military historiography.” 

Outside of teaching and writing, Moyd enjoys exploring the East Lansing community with her family. Moyd moved to East Lansing from Bloomington, Indiana where she was teaching at Indiana University Bloomington.  

Moyd said she discovered the Lansing Shuffle over the summer and enjoys relaxing at Hooked or Schuler’s Books & Music. She said she also likes walking on the Northern Tier Trail. 

“It’s been really fun getting to know the area,” Moyd said. “We are exploring what our favorite foods are and where we like to go. We would like to spend more time in Detroit and explore the northern part of the state.” 

Moyd said she hopes to spend the upcoming summer focusing on writing her book and further exploring Michigan.