Paul Ocobock

Paul Ocobock


Associate Professor




B.A., University of Michigan
M. Phil., St. Antony's College, Oxford University
Ph.D., Princeton University

Research and Teaching Interests

I am a historian of twentieth century Africa, and I specialize in the histories of African peoples living in East Africa. My research draws on archival records and field interviews done with members of several communities in Kenya. My current work examines the everyday lives of young Kenyan African men growing up under British colonialism. I explore their efforts to earn a living, challenge generational and colonial authority, as well as articulate and fulfill a sense of moral and material maturity. I specifically focus on the migrant wage labor, street life, delinquency, and armed rebellion of young men against the colonial state. I am preparing a book manuscript on these themes entitled Coming of Age in Kenya Colony as well as writing an article on the participation of young men in the Mau Mau war and British efforts to punish and rehabilitate them.

I teach courses in African History, from earliest times to the present day. My teaching interests include histories of colonialism, anti-colonial violence, gender and generation, youth politics, urbanization, and labor in Africa. I also enjoy teaching on the role of Africans in the rise of the global slave trade as well as life in the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


My work has been published in a variety of venues. The journal Social History published my first article in 2006, which examined the lives of street children and their connections to urban migration and crime in colonial Kenya. The following year, I organized a World History conference on how notions and lifestyles of homelessness and vagrancy developed across the globe and over time. I compiled the conference papers into a book entitled Cast Out: Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical, which was published by Ohio University Press in 2009. Most recently, I contributed an article called "Anti-Colonial Behavior" for the online edition of Dissent Magazine.

Contact Information

Office: 479 Decio
Phone: (574) 631-2564

Mailing Address:
Department of History
219 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556


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