Markku Hokkanen

Markku Hokkanen

PhD, Adjunct Professor

University lecturer
Modern global and imperial history


Markku Hokkanen joined the Department of History in Oulu in 2016 from University of Jyväskylä, where he obtained his PhD in General History in 2006. Markku's research areas include histories of colonialism and empire, medicine and health, African history and British history in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with particular focus on Malawi, Southern Africa and the British Empire. He has conducted research in the United Kingdom, Malawi and South Africa, and published monographs, several articles and edited book collections. He is currently leading two research projects: a Kone-foundation funded project on the history and memories of Finnish development work (2017-20), and Academy of Finland-funded project on the histories of mobile healers, politics and development in sub-Saharan Africa (2019-23). His recent publications include the monograph Medicine, mobility and the empire: Nyasaland networks, 1859-1960 (Manchester University Press, 2017), and the co-edited collections Encountering Crises of the Mind: Madness, Culture and Society, 1200s-1900s (Brill, 2018), and Healers and Empires in Global History: Healing as Hybrid and Contested Knowledge (Palgrave, 2019).    

Research interests

  • Medicine, mobility and the empire: Nyasaland networks, 1859–1960 (monograph, Manchester University Press, 2017, see
  • Kehitysyhteistyön mieli ja mielettömyys: Koetut merkitykset ja maailmankansalaisuuden muisti suomalaisessa kehitysavussa 1950–2020 (Experienced meanings and memories of global citizenship in Finnish development work 1950-2020): Kone Foundation funded project (Principal Investigator) 2017-2020.
  • British missionaries and making of knowledge about non-European world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. (Emil Aaltonen foundation, 2014)
  • Health, Illness and Medical Culture in Imperial Britain and Southern Africa, 1806–1950 (Academy of Finland postdoctoral project, 2008–2010)
  • Mobile healers, politics and development in sub-Saharan Africa 1870-2000: Transformations, contestations and innovations. Academy of Finland funded research project (Principal Investigator) 2019-2023.


Modern global and imperial history, cultural encounters, social and cultural history of medicine, health and the body, the history of colonialism, African history (particularly Malawi and Southern Africa), British history, intellectual history. In addition, I am interested in and work upon histories of religion (particularly Christian missions), science and technology, history of sport, and historical anthropology.

Main current research themes: cultural encounters in medicine and healthcare, healers, mobility, networks and making of knowledge (with focus on Southern Africa and British empire), history of development work.


Candidates’ seminar, African history, colonial and imperial history, historical methods and methodology, Brittish and Scottish history.

Ten most important publications


Medicine, mobility and the empire: Nyasaland networks, 1859-1960. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, Studies in Imperialism-series, 2017)

Medicine and Scottish Missionaries in the Northern Malawi Region, 1875–1930:  Quests for Health in a Colonial Society (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007)


Edited collections:

Healers and Empires in Global History: Healing as Hybrid and Contested Knowledge. Edited by Markku Hokkanen and Kalle Kananoja. (Palgrave MacMillan, Cambridge Imperial and Post-colonial Studies Series, 2019)

Encountering Crises of the Mind: Madness, Culture and Society, 1200s-1900s. Edited by Tuomas Laine-Frigren, Jari Eilola & Markku Hokkanen (Brill: History of Science and Medicine Library 57, 2018)


Journal articles:

‘Imperial Networks, Colonial Bioprospecting and Burroughs Wellcome & Co.: The Case of Strophanthus Kombe from Malawi (1859–1915)’. Social History of Medicine, Vol.25, No. 3, August 2012, 589–607.

‘Quests for Health and Contests for Meaning: African Church Leaders and Scottish Missionaries in the Early Twentieth-Century Presbyterian Church in Northern Malawi’, Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 33, No. 4, December 2007, 733–750

‘“Christ and the Imperial Games Fields” in South Central Africa – Sport and the Scottish Missionaries in Malawi, 1880–1914: Utilitarian Compromise’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, Vol. 22, No. 4, July 2005, 743–767

‘Scottish Missionaries and African Healers: Perceptions and Relations in the Livingstonia Mission, 1875–1930’. Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 34, No. 3, Autumn 2004, 320–347

‘Moral Transgression, Disease and Holistic Health in the Livingstonia Mission in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Malawi’. Asclepio. Revista de Historia de la Medicine y de la Ciencia, Vol. LXI, No. 1, enero-junio 2009, 243–257


Book chapters:

‘The Government Medical Service and British Missions in Colonial Malawi, c. 1891–1940: Crucial Collaboration, Hidden Conflicts’, in Anna Greenwood (ed.), Beyond the State: The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015).

‘Missionaries, Agents of Empire and Medical Educators: Scottish Doctors in Late Nineteenth-Century Southern and East-Central Africa’ in A. Afegame and A. Lawrence (eds.), Africa in Scotland, Scotland in Africa: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Hybridities (Leiden: Brill, 2014)

‘Towards a Cultural History of Medicine(s) in Colonial Central Africa’, in Anne Digby, Waltraud Ernst and Projit B. Mukharji (eds.), Crossing Colonial Historiographies: Histories of Colonial and Indigenous Medicine in Transnational Perspective (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010)

‘Missions, Nurses and Knowledge Transfer: The Case of Early Colonial Malawi’, in E. Fleischmann, S. Grypma, M. Marten and I. M.  Okkenhaug (eds.), Transnational and Historical Perspectives on Global Health, Welfare and Humanitarianism, (Kristiansand: Portal Academic, 2013)