John Cropper

Assistant Professor

Address: Maybank Hall, Room 325
Office Hours: TR 12:30-1:30 & by appt.
Phone: 843.953.1420

John Cropper earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and currently serves as an assistant professor of African History at the College of Charleston. His research interests include the history of the environment, development and aid, energy use, and politics in French West Africa. His current book project, entitled From the Field to the Refinery: Energy, Technology, and Infrastructure in Senegal, 1450-2015, explores Senegal’s transition from a pre-industrial organic economy to a modern hybrid energy economy based on fossil fuels, local fuels, and renewable energy. In placing the study of energy use within an African historical context, the book illuminates how systems of energy use in Senegal served as distinctly African forms of knowledge, technology, and infrastructure over the long durée.


Ph.D. in African History, University of Chicago, 2019

M.A. in African History, University of Chicago, 2012

M.A. in Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 2009

B.A. in European History and French Culture, Colorado College, 2004

Courses Taught

Precolonial Africa

An Environmental History of Africa, 1800 to Present Day

Modern Africa

The History of the Atlantic World and the Anthropocene

Honors and Awards

Dr. Cropper has been awarded fellowships from Les Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and the African Studies Program and the University of Chicago, as well as prize lectureships at the University of Chicago. 


Peer-Reviewed Articles:

John Cropper, “Running on Empty: Fossil Fuels, Local Fuels, and Entangled Infrastructures in Colonial Senegal, 1885-1945,” The Journal of African History 63 (1), (2022), 19-36.

“The Sparrow Loves Millet But Labors Not: Technology, Infrastructure, and Power in the Senegal Valley, 1450 – 1750,” History and Technology 39 (1), (2023), 42-64.

“Growing a World Wonder: The Great Green Wall and the History of Environmental Decline in the Sahel,” Environment and History, (2023), DOI:


From the Field to the Refinery: Energy, Technology, and Infrastructure in Senegal, 1450-2010 (in progress).