Emmanuel Kreike

Norman B. Tomlinson ’16 and ’48 Professor of War and Society; Professor of History
Office Phone
138 Dickinson Hall
Office Hours
Thursday: 3:00 pm-5:00 pm

& by appointment


Emmanuel Kreike, a citizen of the Netherlands, has a Ph.D. in African history from Yale University (1996) and a Dr. of Science (PhD) in Tropical Forestry from the School of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University (2006), the Netherlands. His research and teaching interests focus on the intersection of war/violence, population displacement, environment, and society. He is particularly interested in how violence (including, for example, colonial conquest, the apartheid wars, slave raiding) and ensuing forced migration led to the destruction of human landscapes and how people rebuild lives and livelihoods in often alien environments. He has taught courses in African history and environmental history at Princeton University as well as courses in forestry and environmental sciences in Namibia and South Africa.

His publications include Re-Creating Eden: Land Use, Environment, and Society in Southern Angola and Northern Namibia (Heinemann, 2004) and Deforestation and Reforestation in Namibia: The Global Consequences of Local Contradictions (Brill and Markus Wiener, 2010). With William Chester Jordan he edited Corrupt Histories (University of Rochester Press, 2004).

He is completing two book-length manuscripts. “Architects of Nature: Environmental Infrastructuring and the Myth of Natural Resources Management” introduces a new conceptualization and vocabulary to analyze and narrate environmental change beyond the constraints of the Nature-Culture dichotomy (contracted by Cambridge University Press and forthcoming 2012). “Environmental Warfare, Humanitarian Disasters, and Indirect Genocide: From the Conquest of Mexico to the Apartheid Wars” (contracted by Princeton University Press) discusses environmental warfare throughout four major colonial wars: the 16th-19th century European Conquest of the Americas, the late 16th/early 17th century Dutch Revolt/War of Flanders in the Low Countries, the late 19th century Aceh Wars on Sumatra, Indonesia, and the early 20th century Portuguese and South African conquest of the Ovambo floodplain in Angola and Namibia.

A further book project with the working title “'The War Ate the Rains:’ The High Socio-Environmental Cost of Low-Intensity War” is mainly based on interviews with 240 inhabitants of two of the main theaters of the regional Apartheid Wars, the Angolan-Namibian border region and the South African-Mozambican border region and a series of sample household surveys. The study analyzes the impact of the 1960s-1990s “low-intensity” warfare on rural society and the environment in the southern African subcontinent.

Emmanuel Kreike also initiated the research for a project that systematically integrates birds-eye view spatial visual sources (aerial photography, satellite images, maps), landscape and settlement photos, sample household surveys, and oral history with more conventional archival documentary sources through the use of digital and Geographical Information Science (GIS) programs and technology. Due to the size and nature of the undertaking, this is evolving into a separate project that probably will eventually be “published” through an interactive Google Earth or Second Life type platform. It will allow virtual time travel through the Angolan-Namibian borderlands from the 1940s to the present. As in Google Earth, the user can “fly” over the past landscapes in different pints in time and zoom in on details (including farms and other landscape features. The level of detail allows for the identification of individual huts and trees. Kreike envisages this as both as an interactive teaching tool and a student resource (students can conduct virtual resource with real historical data for class and independent projects) and an online publication that will remain alive (as, for example, Google Earth is updated and expanded continuously).

He has conducted field and archival research in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Mozambique, and Senegal and archival research in various Dutch archives, including the West India Company Archive (WIC), the archive of the Dutch Possessions on the Coast of Guinee (NBKG), the Colonial Archive on the Netherlands-Indies (Aceh collections) and the archives of of a range of 16-17th century regional waterboards and regional rural entities (often referred to as quarters or kwartieren).

Further information on this research can be found through the following links:

Talk: Podcast
Presentation: PDF
Online article about presentation: Beyond Words: Environmental History, Digitization, and GIS
Animation: kreik20.mov
(Quicktime movie incorporating Quickbird image from Digital Globe and globe image from ESRI)


  • 1982 Kandidaats (B.A.), History, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • 1986 Dokterandus (M.A.), Department of History, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • 1986-1988 M.A., Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles.
  • 1987-1988 Exchange Scholar, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. 
  • 1990-1991 Department of Forestry, Wageningen Agricultural University.
  • 1996 Ph.D., History Department, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 2006 Dr. Sc., School of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Colonialism & Post Colonialism
Environmental History
Race & Ethnicity
Social History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
15th & 16th Centuries
17th & 18th Centuries
19th Century
20th Century
Sub-Saharan Africa