Robin K. Crigler

Fields of Interest: African History (Modern Southern Africa), Humor and Stand-Up Comedy, African Diaspora Studies, History Pedagogy

Languages: Afrikaans, Zulu

Education: Ph. D. History, Michigan State University, 2021

B.A. History and Religious Studies, The College of William and Mary, 2014


I’m a historian of modern South Africa and a humor scholar. My doctoral dissertation “Laughter and Identity: A Social and Cultural History of South African Humor, 1910-1961” explores the complex purposes to which humor and satire were deployed in Union-era South Africa. Through case studies of leading humorists from a variety of racial and economic backgrounds, from the Afrikaner nationalist cartoonist D. C. Boonzaier to Zulu language media icon K. E. Masinga, it illustrates how laughter both bolstered and challenged white supremacy and systems of sexist domination, laying the groundwork along the way for a shared South African “sense of humor.”

I was a Fulbright-Hays D.D.R.A Fellow in 2019 and a F.L.A.S. recipient for Zulu in 2015-2017. My work has appeared in African Arts and the South African Theatre Journal and am currently busy revising my completed dissertation into a book manuscript. At Michigan State University this year I teach HST 201 (Historical Methods and Skills) as well as co-teach IAH 205 (Africa and the World) with my colleague Dr. Russell Stevenson.

My CV is available at this link

Teaching Appointments:

HST201: Historical Methods and Skills (Fall 2021, Spring 2021 and 2022)

IAH205: Africa and the World (Fall 2021 and Spring 2022), co-led with Russell Stevenson

Graduate Assistant Appointments:

IAH201: US and the World (Spring 2015, 2018, and Fall 2020) with Juan Javier Pescador

IAH205: Africa and the World with Tibebe Eshete (Spring 2017) and Nwando Achebe (Spring 2020)

IAH204: Asia and the World (Fall 2018) with Sidney Xu Lu

ISS328: Social Science of Sport—Global Soccer (Summer 2016, 2017, and 2018) with Peter Alegi

ISS210: The History and Theory of Genocide with Ronen Steinberg (Fall 2017)

ISS330A: Africa—Social Science Perspectives: History, Cultures, and Politics (Fall 2015 and 2016) with Peter Alegi

Other Sites: 

Here’s a link to my profile. A list of my publications can be found on Google Scholar.

Also, be sure to check out my personal website, where I post poetry and occasionally blog on African topics