Beth Ann Williams

Profile picture for Beth Ann Williams

Contact Information

309 Gregory Hall
810 S. Wright Street
M/C 466
Urbana, IL 61801

Research Interests

African History, East Africa
Women and Gender
Religious History (Christianity)

Research Description

My research focuses on post-independence East Africa. My current dissertation, titled “God Gave Women Power: Intersections of Faith, Gender, Agency, and Well-Being in Christian East Africa," explores the role of mainline, Protestant denominations in social change in Kenya and Tanzania. Emphasizing oral histories and interviews across a range of economic and educational backgrounds, I ask how church has operated not only as a socio-economic institution but also a fulcrum for questions of gendered identity, work, family composition, and belonging. 


M.A. History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2016
B.A. History & Anthropology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, 2011


Graduate College Dissertation Travel Grant, Summer 2018
Nelle M. Signor Graduate Scholarship in International Relations, Summer 2018
Research Cluster Grant, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities

Awards and Honors

CCWH / Berks Graduate Student Fellowship, Summer 2018
FLAS. Advanced Swahili. Center for African Studies. University of Illinois, Summer 2018
Joseph Ward Swain Prize for best published graduate student paper, Spring 2018
Illinois Distinguished Fellowship, Fall 2013-Spring 2017
FLAS, Advanced Swahili, AY 2015-2016
FLAS, Advanced Swahili, Summer 2014

Courses Taught

SourceLab Independent Study Groups, HIST 491
Introduction to African History, HIST 110

Global History, HIST 100 (TA)
Constructing Race in America, HIST 281 (TA)

Highlighted Publications


Mainline Churches: Networks of Belonging in Post-independence Kenya and Tanzania.” Journal of Religion in Africa. 48 (2019): 1-31.

‘Call Us Ms.’: Viva and arguments for Kenyan women's respectable citizenship 1975–80." Women's History Review 2016, p. 1-19.


"Globalization and Human Rights: what historians have to say." History Matters, 2017.