Michelle arrived at IU in 2008 after receiving her Ph.D. in History from Cornell University. She has held residential fellowships at the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas—Austin and at the International Research Center on Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History in Berlin. Michelle's first book, Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa,explores the social and cultural history of African soldiers (askari) in the colonial army of German East Africa, today's Tanzania. The book examines how askari identities were shaped by their geographical and sociological origins, their ways of war, and their roles as agents of the colonial state.
She is currently at work on a short book entitled Africa, Africans, and the First World War, which examines the spectrum of African experiences in the war, especially as soldiers and workers. She is also researching the social, cultural, and international political history of the 1979 Kagera War fought between Tanzania and Uganda for a future book-length project. Another research project, which is in a very early stage, involves examining the historical links between colonial militaries and work across different imperial experiences. Michelle is particularly interested in bringing the experience of nineteenth-century African-American soldiers into a broader analysis of soldiers of empire.