Department of History

Jennifer E. Johnson

Associate Professor of History
Peter Green 309
Areas of Expertise Africa, History of Science, Technology, Environment, and Medicine
Office Hours Fridays, 1:00-3:00PM, in-person or by appointment.


Jennifer Johnson is a historian of Africa, and a specialitist in twentieth-century North Africa. Her research explores questions of nationalism, decolonization, human rights, medicine, and international organizations.

Her first book, The Battle for Algeria: Sovereignty, Health Care, and Humanitarianism(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), offers a new interpretation of the Algerian War (1954-1962). It foregrounds the centrality of health and humanitarianism to the nationalists’ war effort and shows how the FLN leadership constructed national health care institutions that provided critical care for the population and functioned as a protostate. Moreover, it demonstrates how the FLN’s representatives used postwar rhetoric about rights and national self-determination to legitimize their claims, which led to international recognition of Algerian sovereignty.

Her current book project examines the relationship between public health and state-building in postcolonial North Africa. Specifically, it explores the politics of family planning and nutrition programs in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Her research analyzes how newly independent regimes coopted global health campaigns for their own benefits and used their assistance to bolster and expand their national health services in the wake of decolonization.

Johnson comes to Brown after teaching at the City College of New York and Lehman College. She received her BA in History from Brown University in 2004 and her PhD in History from Princeton University in 2010.