Paul Grant

Position title: Lecturer: History 130 – An Introduction to World History; History 201 – Global Christianities; History 201 – Mass Migrations


Phone: 608.890.2250

Office: 5212 Mosse Humanities Building
Mailbox: 5065 Mosse Humanities Building
Office Hours: Fridays 9:00-11:00am and by appointment in 5212 Mosse Humanities

Paul Grant headshot


I am a historian of cross-cultural encounter, above all in West Africa, and above all at the level of religion, which is the realm of life in which Africans have been most successful at dictating the terms of their relationships with others. My 2020 book examines a mid-nineteenth century refugee crisis in a small mountain kingdom in today’s Ghana. I find that locals, who over three hundred years of encounter with Europeans on the coast had shown nearly no interest in Christianity, began to reconfigure that religion as an indigenous tool for assimilating refugees into existing social structures.

The best part about historical research is finding ways to tell stories that enlighten and astonish at the same time. I am currently working on two new book projects: a story of Ghanaian everyday life at the time of European imperial conquest, through the life story of one very fascinating individual, and a story of religious change in the early twentieth century in the borderlands of Ghana and Burkina Faso, where Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions inform one another in constantly surprising ways.

The best part about being a historian is meeting students and hearing their stories. My favorite teaching moments have come when students begin to believe me on this matter: I want to hear all about who you are and where you have been!


Ph.D, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Selected Publications

  • “Forgiving the Missionaries: African Moral Imagination and Postcolonial Germans,” in Adam Blackler, David Pizzo, and Sara Pugach (eds.), After the Imperialist Imagination: Two Decades of Research on Global Germany and its Legacies (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2020).
  • “The Effervescence of Individual Life: David Kwasi Cornelius Badu, 1849-1905 Gold Coast and Nigeria,” in Klaas van Walraven (ed.), The Individual in African History (African Dynamics 18) (Leiden: Brill, March 2020), 117-147.
  • “Strangers and Neighbors in Precolonial Ghana,” Fides et Historia 50:2 (2019), 94-107
  • “Ghanaian Cocoa and Global Christianity, 1900-1930,” in Alison Howell (ed.), Cocoa and Social and Religious Change in Ghana (Akropong, Ghana: Regnum Africa, 2018)
  • “Biography as Counter-Narrative to Rupture: Intact Lives as Moral Problem,” in Dana Robert (ed.), African Christian Biography (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: Cluster Publications, 2018)
  • “Dying German in Ghana: Death, Belonging, and ‘Heimat’ in the Basel Mission in 19th Century Gold Coast”, Studies in World Christianity 20:01 (April 2014)

Selected Awards

  • Research Fellow, Catholic University Leuven (Belgium), 2021-2022
  • American Historical Association Bernadotte Schmitt research grant (Cameroon), 2021
  • University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Faculty Development Grant (Mexico), 2019
  • Central European History Society, Research Travel Grant (Switzerland), 2017
  • African Studies Association Travel Award, 2016
  • Kaplan Award in the History of Social Justice, University of Wisconsin, 2016
  • Doris Quinn Dissertation Writing Fellowship, 2015-2016
  • Duke University, John Hope Franklin Research Grant, 2015
  • Yale Divinity School, David M. Stowe Fellowship for Mission Research, 2013

Professional Affiliations

  • African Studies Association
  • Ghana Studies Association
  • Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of World Christianity

History Courses Taught