Joanna supports freedom of speech and journalism in a number of ways, commenting on popular cultural issues such as the monarchy and on current affairs in Africa. She also has a personal column in her local newspaper, the Hampshire Chronicle.
She is a regular book reviewer for the Times Higher Education magazine including:
Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba, by Emmanuel Gerard and Bruce Kuklick | Joanna Lewis on the assassination of the nation’s first democratically elected leader, February 2015
Email from Ngeti: An Ethnography of Sorcery, Redemption, and Friendship in Global Africa, by James H. Smith and Ngeti Mwadime | One-way secrets in a gripping exchange between a Kenyan and an Africanist trouble by Joanna Lewis, November 2014
I Did It To Save My Life: Love and Survival in Sierra Leone | Joanna Lewis on how cultures and circumstances skew our passions more than we may realise, November 2012
Dr Joanna Lewis recently talked with TIME Magazine about the Monarchy’s troubled relationship with race in the aftermath of Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah (10 March). She commented, “if we look to history, we can see how the royals have a complex relationship with people of color, because throughout the last decades, it’s visits to the Commonwealth where the monarchy has felt most popular, and most loved”. Read the article here.
Empire of Sentiment: The Death of Livingstone and the Myth of Victorian Imperialism was published in paperback in December.
British Academy Research Award
Dr Lewis won a British Academy 2020 Special Research Award Grant: Covid-19 Scheme to set up a small team to explore high death rates among Somali communities in some of the poorest parts of London. The project entitled, “A Study of Caabuga-Corona in the Somali Diaspora: Histories of COVID-19, Male Elders and Community Responses in Tower Hamlets and the East End of London”, was selected out of 842 eligible applications with a success rate of 6.6%. Dr Lewis was awarded close to the maximum on offer (£10,000). Read more about the scheme.
THE Book Review
Another book review by Dr Lewis was published in the 16 January issue of the Times Higher Education. She offered her comments on Licentious Worlds: Sex and Exploitation in Global Empires by Julie Peakman, a panoramic study of sexual behaviour and attempts to control it across five centuries of globalising empires. Find out what Dr Lewis had to say about this new release.
Channel 4 documentary
Dr Lewis was featured as an expert in the first two episodes of Channel 4's documentary The Queen’s Lost Family. Using never-before-seen personal letters, diaries and photograph albums, the documentary tells the inside story of the royal family over three turbulent decades from the 1920s to the end of World War Two. First episode was aired on Sunday, 11 August, and the second episode followed one week later.
THE book review
Dr Joanna Lewis reviewed Jeffrey A. Auerbach's Imperial Boredom: Monotony and the British Empire for the Times Higher Education on 29 November. She argues that his fascinating study takes boredom to a new level. Auerbach maintains that a unifying feature of the British Empire was the prolonged experience of being bored. So bored had the British become, he insists, it even laid “the emotional foundations for the British to leave their empire in the twentieth [century]”. Read the review.
LSE Research Showcase
The first LSE Research Showcase organised by Knowledge Exchange for the School community was held on 13 November and featured exhibits with film and photography, hands-on activities and games. One of 14 stands, Dr Joanna Lewis's research was featured in the exhibition. She presented her research with Dr Shane Marotta and Mohammed Ismail, on a contemporary case study in human resilience during and after the Somali civil war in 1991, “Rebuilding Somaliland After Conflict: The role of a London diaspora”.
Outreach lecture at Somali Cultural Festival
As part of the Somali Cultural Festival, Dr Joanna Lewis gave a public lecture on Monday, 22 October, at the Anglo-Somali Society. The lecture, entitled “Somali Women, the Diaspora and Resilience”, was based on Dr Lewis’s current research project at LSE funded by the Institute of Global Affairs. She talked about how Somali refugees, forced to flee conflict after 1990, survived the trauma of dislocation, rebuilt or remade new lives in London and then turned their attention to helping the homeland.
British Academy-funded workshop in South Africa
Dr Joanna Lewis presented at a British Academy-funded international workshop in South Africa on 11 October. The workshop, “Connecting the Local and the Global in Nineteenth Century Southern Africa” took place between 9 and 11 October and was jointly hosted by the International Studies Group, University of the Free State, and the University of Dundee in Scotland. Dr Lewis delivered one of the keynote lectures, entitled “The Pathetic Death of Bwana Ingeleshi: Late 19th Century British Imperialisms in South-Central Africa and the Graveyard of Ambition”. The lecture was based on two chapters in her recently released monograph Empire of Sentiment on the death and myth of David Livingstone.
Africa at LSE Blog
As a new exhibition commemorating the Somali effort during the First World War opened in London, Dr Joanna Lewis contributed a new article to the Africa at LSE Blog, analysing how scholarship of the Great War is increasingly encompassing the global contribution of the conflict. Read the article, "Somalis in the First World War".
Fieldwork in Somaliland
Dr Joanna Lewis left the UK on Friday, 20 July, to conduct research in Somaliland for her project on the reconstruction of post conflict states. In 2017, she was awarded an LSE Institute of Global Affairs-Rockefeller Grant for two years to lead a project on Somalia, entitled “‘Pathways to Resilience’: The Role of an Urban Diaspora in Post-Conflict Reconstruction, London and Hargeisa, 1991 to the Present Day.” The project, based at the Firoz Lalji LSE Centre for Africa, investigates the role of the Somali diaspora in building frameworks of social, political and financial resilience in a post-conflict urban environment. It case-studies the diasporic relationship between London and Hargeisa, capital of the unrecognised state of Somaliland, since civil war ended in 1991. As part of her research, Dr Lewis will interview Somaliland's Foreign Minister Dr Edna Adan in the Horn of Africa. Incidentally, Dr Adan and the issue of Somaliland’s status are discussed in an article in the Guardian on 20 July.
Empire of Sentiment Book of the Week
Empire of Sentiment: The Death of Livingstone and the Myth of Victorian Imperialism was proclaimed Book of the Week by The Times Higher Education (22 March). Joanna Bourke reviews the manuscript while giving an account of Dr Lewis’s analysis of Livingstone’s mythologised death, as well as Livingstone’s legacy in post-imperial contexts. “Her new book on the ‘myth of imperialism’", Bourke argues, “is an enthralling analysis of the cult of Livingstone”. Read the full review in the THE website.
New book released by CUP
Dr Lewis’s new book, Empire of Sentiment: The Death of Livingstone and the Myth of Victorian Imperialism, was released by Cambridge University Press in January 2018. The book argues that one singular moment, the death of David Livingstone, shaped Britain’s perception of itself as a humane power overseas when the colonial reality fell far short. The images and myths surrounding Livingstone’s death were passed down through generations, inspiring waves of sentimental feeling and further colonial rule in Africa. Order the book on Amazon UK. Watch the promo trailed for the book on Vimeo.
Public lecture at Yale University
Dr Joanna Lewis was at Yale University on 12 October to talk about how she wrote her forthcoming book, Empire of Sentiment: The Death of Livingstone and the Myth of Victorian Imperialism. Her public lecture, entitled "Death, Iconicity and Emotion: (the journey) to Livingstone, Africa and an Empire of Sentiment”, is part of the International History Workshop series, sponsored by the History Department and the Council of African Studies. Dr Lewis's book, to be released by Cambridge University Press in January 2018, is the first emotional history of the British Empire. It explores how David Livingstone's death tied together British imperialism and Victorian humanitarianism and inserted it into popular culture.
Dr Joanna Lewis was officially promoted to Associate Professor on 1 August 2017.
BBC Four's A Timewatch Guide
Dr Joanna Lewis participated in an episode of BBC Four’s A Timewatch Guide, called Dictators and Despots, showed on 25 July. Through the examination of fifty years of BBC documentary archives, the episode looked at how dictators, such as Cesar, Castro Gaddafi, Saddam and Mugabe, have risen in unsettling times and why they can have such a powerful appeal. Watch it on BBC iPlayer (UK only).
Award winner of IGA-Rockefeller Grant
Dr Joanna Lewis was awarded an LSE Institute of Global Affairs-Rockefeller Grant for two years to lead a project on Somalia, entitled “‘Pathways to Resilience’: The Role of an Urban Diaspora in Post-Conflict Reconstruction, London and Hargeisa, 1991 to the Present Day.” The project will be based at the Firoz Lalji LSE Centre for Africa.
Review of Keith Somerville's Ivory for the the Africa at LSE Blog
Dr Joanna Lewis contributed a passionate and analytical review of BBC broadcaster Keith Somerville’s newest book, Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa for the Africa at LSE blog (27 January 2017). Dr Lewis describes Somerville’s book as the best academic account to date of the history of the supply side of ivory trade. "He argues, that it is more the petty, everyday reality of corruption, crime and politics, which enables illegal poaching to survive (and even surge) when there is any kind of international push for a more extensive ban on the trade. The logic then is that hunting and therefore the trade should be regulated.” Dr Lewis, herself a passionate animal lover, concedes that “when the argument comes from Somerville, the heart has to yield to the head”. “Supporting and strengthening communities so they can manage wildlife responsibly from the bottom up, with some controlled hunting, is an argument that many wildlife experts have come to see is the only long term viable solution.” “Still”, concludes Dr Lewis, “what a deterrent it could be that, if caught, those men who organise the hunting and butchering of elephants for pleasure and for their tusks, also have something they hold dear cut off…” Read Dr Joanna Lewis’s full review of Ivory.
Review of Martin Plaut's Understanding Eritrea for the Times Higher Education
Dr Joanna Lewis reviewed Matin Plaut’s newest book, Understanding Eritrea: Inside Africa’s Most Repressive State, in the Times Higher Education (26 January 2017). “Plaut’s extensive evidence shows how the regime’s repressive stance in power is a consequence of its ruler,” writes Dr Lewis. “A study of the North African country lays bare a ruler at war with his own people”. Read Dr Joanna Lewis’s review.
Review of Hansen's Al-Shabaab in Somalia for the “Africa at LSE” blog
Dr Joanna Lewis, our expert in Modern Africa History, contributed a book review to the Africa at LSE blog on 28 October 2016. She reviewed the revised and updated version of Stig Jarle Hansen’s Al Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, recently released with a new preface. Dr Joanna Lewis praises the volume for providing a comprehensive history of the militant Islamist group. Read her full review.
Times Higher Education Summer reads
Alongside other members of the higher education community, Dr Joanna Lewis told the readers of the Times Higher Education (14 July 2016) about two books she planned to take on holiday - a new must-read and a classic worthy of a second look. Read her suggestions.
On Benedict Anderson's Final Book in The Times Higher Education
Dr Joanna Lewis wrote a feature on Benedict Anderson’s last and final book, A Life Beyond Boundaries, for the The Times Higher Education on 2 June 2016. Dr Lewis’s review provides insight into Anderson’s most famous book, Imagined Communities, and his latest intellectual memoir, completed months before his death in December 2015. Read Dr Lewis's opinion on nationalism’s truest friend and the books that made him a world authority.
'Highly Commended' for a LSESU Teaching Excellence Award
In May 2016, Dr Joanna Lewis was shortlisted for the Student Union LSE Teaching Excellence Award in the category of Innovative Teaching, for which she was ‘highly commended’. She already holds an LSE Teaching Prize from a previous year, and last year she was also nominated for an award. The Teaching Excellence Awards are the only awards at LSE that are student-led - students make the nominations and students choose the winners. It is the students who know the teachers that really make a difference.
Introduction to academia in Times Higher Education
Dr Joanna Lewis, our specialist in African and Imperial History, was featured in an article published in the Times Higher Education on 14 April. She is one of several scholars around the world recommending ‘essential’ texts to introduce sixth-formers to the academy. Her choice is Owen Jones’s The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It (2014). Learn why.
Dr Joanna Lewis’s most recent media appearances include Radio 4 Melvyn Bragg In Our Time on the Scramble for Africa last broadcast on 31 October 2013; and a Sky/National Geographic Magazine’s documentary on The Lost Diary of Dr Livingstone in their award winning Secrets of the Dead series.
International History student in Row Zambezi Expedition 2011
Dr Lewis has written a short essay in support of the Row Zambezi Expedition 2011. A charity event, designed to raise money for Water Aid, it is being organised by a second year History student, Oliver Cook. Dr Lewis was happy to be able to support this event following Livingstone's journey down the river, and she looks forward to seeing the team at the finishing line near Victoria Falls in the summer.