Centre College Faculty
Jonathon Earle• Visiting Assistant Professor of History
Office: Crounse Hall—436
Jonathon Earle joined Centre's faculty in 2012 as visiting assistant professor of history. After earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in religion and theology, respectively, he completed his doctoral studies in history at the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge, he facilitated tutorials, lectures, and seminars at both the undergraduate and graduate level, teaching on the history of modern Africa and historical methodology. He currently teaches an introductory part of the Development of the Modern World and an upper-level seminar on historical argument and practice. Earle further offers upper-level courses on African history, mentors students in independent research on African history, and leads a study abroad course in Uganda and Rwanda.
In broad terms, Earle’s current research focuses on global intellectual history and the history of political theologies in colonial Uganda. It makes two contributions to African historiography. First, it shows the extent to which monarchical politics dominated what has hereto been described as the decade of African nationalism. Until now, scholars of Africa have understood the 1950s and early 1960s as a time when anticolonial activists adapted global liberalisms to imagine postcolonial states. But this period was also a time of extensive monarchical politicking. Nationalists and royalists alike adapted monarchical histories to engage in new forms of cosmopolitanism and translocal politics. Royalism did not preclude anticolonial nationalism, nor did it necessarily rigidify social movement. Adapting precolonial monarchical histories, royalists reinterpreted the past to practice inclusive constitutionalism and critique ethnic partisanship. Second, Earle scrutinizes local epistemologies to offer an integrative framework to reassess the competing characteristics of political and religious discourse in colonial Africa. Not formally trained in philosophy or theology, social historians fail to examine African epistemologies. Conversely, scholars of religion ignore political discourse, resulting in partial interpretations of religious phenomena. Complicating both, Earle shows that knowledge production was coterminous in colonial Africa. Theology undergirded political thought and political thought enveloped theological imagination—neither was epiphenomenal. To engage in this interdisciplinary work, Earle uses his proficiency in local languages to carryout extensive field work throughout Uganda, building upon oral ethnography and extensive use of private and public archives. His recent work has been published in the Dictionary of African Biography (Oxford) and the Journal of Eastern African Studies. His manuscript on the genealogies of political thought in late colonial Buganda is forthcoming.
File last updated: 10/21/13