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Thomas F. McDow

Thomas F. McDow

Thomas F. McDow

Associate Professor



361 Dulles Hall
230 Annie & John Glenn Avenue
Columbus, OH

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Office Hours

By appointment: please email

Areas of Expertise

  • African History
  • Islamic History
  • History of Health
  • Power, Culture, and the State
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Nation

Thomas F. McDow is a historian of Africa and the Indian Ocean world with a strong interest in the history of global health. He joined the faculty at Ohio State in 2011.

He is the author of Buying Time: Debt and Mobility in the Western Indian Ocean (2018), and, with Edward A. Alpers, A Primer for Teaching Indian Ocean History (for a series at Duke University Press; manuscript under review). McDow is currently working on a history of HIV in Tanzania. He has written about the long history of HIV and given public lectures on the global aspects of this history. 

Some of McDow's regular undergraduate courses include

  • HISTORY 2800 Introduction to the Discipline of History
  • HISTORY 3307 The History of African Health and Healing
  • HISTORY/MICROBIOLOGY 3704 HIV: From Microbiology to Macrohistory (an interdisciplinary course on the science and history of HIV co-taught with virologist Jesse Kwiek)

In addition to his regular classes, McDow has advised undergraduate research, led study abroad trips to Tanzania, overseen a research collaborative on African scientists, and guided summer workshops on applying for Fulbright awards and other fellowships.

In recent years McDow has taught graduate courses on African history, Indian Ocean history, the African history of global health, and, with historian Sarah van Beurden, a history of collecting and empire. He has advised dissertations and been on the dissertation committee of students whose projects relate to African, Islamic, South Asian, and/or health history. He welcomes inquires from prospective graduate students.

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