Robert Rouphail

Assistant Professor

Drop-in hours: Wednesday 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., or by appointment

Dr. Rouphail is a historian of modern Africa and the Indian Ocean and is broadly interested in histories of the environment, empire, and decolonization in the Afro-Asian World.

His book manuscript, Cyclonic Lives in an Indian Ocean World: Identity and Environment in Modern Mauritius, examines how “natural” disasters were constitutive components of the historical development of popular notions of race, gender, and political community on the multi-ethnic and linguistically plural island of Mauritius. It is an interdisciplinary study that employs French, English, and Mauritian Creole-language sources—meteorological reports, oral histories, newspapers, songs, poetry, and the papers of state bureaucracies—to tell an environmental history from below. His research has appeared in The Journal of African History, Isis, and Geoforum, as well as in multiple edited volumes.

Dr. Rouphail teaches across the fields of African, global, and environmental history. His courses range from surveys of modern African and global history to histories of race and empire in the Indian Ocean World to global environmental history and disaster studies courses.

He earned a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Awards and service

  • 2022 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Project Development Grant
  • 2017-18 Andrew W. Mellon Bio-Humanities Fellowship



Research areas
  • Global Environmental History
  • Modern Africa & the Western Indian Ocean
  • Disaster Studies
  • Afro-Asia/Decolonization
Robert Rouphail

272 Schaeffer Hall (SH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States