Robin Crigler

Fields of Interest: African History (Modern Southern Africa), American History, Cultural History, Pilgrimage Studies

Advisor: Peter Alegi

Languages: Afrikaans, Zulu, Latin

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


I study the social and cultural history of Southern Africa, a region that has fascinated me ever since I first stumbled across kwaito music as a bored high schooler.  More specifically, I am interested in the history of humor and satire in South African literature and everyday life.  My dissertation will focus on the rich and largely neglected history of humor in Union-era South Africa, from 1910 to 1961.  Throughout history people have used humor for both oppression and resistance, and I believe it is an enormously revealing lens through which to explore past societies.  My essay “No Laughing Matter?  Humor and the Performance of South Africa” won the M.S.U. History Department’s 2016-2017 Jeff Rooney Prize for best seminar paper. A revised version of this essay appeared in the South African Theatre Journal in April 2018.

Born and bred in the suburban archipelago of Fairfax County, Virginia, I graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2014 as a double-major in history and religious studies.  My undergraduate thesis, which achieved Highest Honors, explored America’s often neglected experience of the Jameson Raid and the 1899-1902 South African War, focusing especially on the successes and failures of pro-Republikeinse (“pro-Boer”) activism and the rhetorical co-optation of the conflict by Americans as a space to work through their own questions of history and identity in a post-Civil War world.

My other academic interests include African history more broadly, American history, pilgrimage studies and the history of leisure.

I am also a poet and hiker.  Whenever the Michigan climate allows, you’ll find me outside.

My CV is available at this link

Fields of Interest: African History (Modern South Africa), American History, Anthropology, Pilgrimage Studies

Languages: Zulu, Afrikaans

Advisor: Peter Alegi

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

IAH201: US and the World (Spring 2015 and 2018) with Juan Pescador

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

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

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

Other Sites: My latest publication, a comparative article on humor, whiteness, and South African national identity appearing in the South African Theatre Journal, can be accessed at this link.

Here’s a link to my profile.

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