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Faculty of Humanities and Education

Department of History and Philosophy


Professor Alan Cobley

Professor Alan Cobley

Professor of South African and Comparative History

Co-Director, UWI-University of Johannesburg Institute for Global African Affairs

Department: History


Born in the UK, Alan Cobley studied at the Universities of Manchester and York before completing his doctorate in African History at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He has served the UWI in a wide variety of administrative capacities, including terms as Acting Head of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies, Head of the Department of History, Director of the School of Education, Deputy Dean and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Campus Coordinator for Graduate Studies and Research and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies. He is current Chair of the University Archives and Records Management Committee, Co-Director of the UWI-University of Johannesburg Institute for Global African Affairs and a Consulting Editor to the Journal of Caribbean History. Professor Cobley teaches courses on aspects of South African and European history, and on the History of Imperialism. He has published extensively on aspects of South African and Caribbean History.


 BA (Hons) University of Manchester;
MA (Southern African Studies) University of York;
PhD, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1987

Research Areas

Social & Cultural History of Southern Africa; South African Labour History, especially the history of mining; Comparative History of Southern Africa and the Caribbean: Maritime History; Sports History

1)   Member of the ‘Oceanic Humanities for the Global South Project’ (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon  Foundation, the South African National Research Foundation and National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences) 2018-to date

2)   Member, ‘EU-LAC Focus Project’ Trans-Sectorial Board (Funded by the European Union) 2016-2019

3)   ‘Varieties of Democracy Project' Country Expert for Barbados 2014 to date (Funded by the University of Gothenburg)

Chair, Caribbean Examinations Council Task Force on History (Funded by CXC) 2017-2018

Teaching Areas

South African History
European History in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
History of Imperialism
Current Debates in History (Postgraduate)

Select Publications

Ann Gill: The Making of a Barbadian National Hero (2021) BMHS/UWI History and Philosophy Department Phamphlet Series (Re(w)riting History)
‘Powering Apartheid: The Coalbrook Mine Disaster of 1960’ South African Historical Journal 72:1 (2020): 80-97. DOI: 10.1080/02582473.2020.1728577
Autobiography and Selected Other Writings of R.V. Selope Thema. Cape Town: Jan Van Riebeeck Society Publications, December 2016. A paperback edition was published as: RVS Thema; From Cattle-herding to Editor’s Chair: A Forgotten Founder of the ANC. Cape Town: (Pocket Revolutionaries Series) Kwela Books; 2018.
 ‘Intimate partner relations in the context of the struggle for freedom in South Africa: some notes,’ Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa 71, 1 (June 2017): 81-92;
‘Out of Many One People? Diaspora Studies, Postcoloniality and the (Un)Making of Caribbean Identities’ in Shibboleths: a Journal of Comparative Theory and Criticism 4.1 (2016): 15-25.



South African History; African nationalism; Global Africa: Black Middle Class; West Indian Seafarers; Caribbean History