Eric Covey

Eric Covey wearing hat and sunglasses, standing in front of a vehicle

Eric Covey
Visiting Assistant Professor of History
Mackinac Hall D-1-134
(616) 331-3184

Fields: African, World, US

Ph.D., M.A., The University of Texas at Austin
A.B., University of California, Davis

Eric Covey (he/him/his) is an alum of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in Africa and has taught across the disciplines at the University of Texas in Austin, Miami University in Ohio, the University of Abuja in Nigeria, and Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

Eric is the author of Americans at War in the Ottoman Empire: US Mercenary Force in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2019), which examines the role of mercenary figures in negotiating relations between the United States and the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century. Mercenaries are often treated as historical footnotes, yet their encounters with the Ottoman world contributed to US culture and the impressions they left behind continue to influence US approaches to Africa and the Middle East. By focusing these mercenary encounters through the lenses of memory, sovereignty, literature, geography, and diplomacy, he reveals the ways in which mercenary force, while marginal in terms of its frequency and scope, produced important knowledge about the Ottoman world and helped to establish the complicated relationship of intimacy and mastery that exists between Americans in the United States and people in Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, South Sudan, and Turkey. He is currently at work on an intellectual history of mercenary force in Nigerian literature, politics, and law.

Beginning in 2007, Eric collected oral histories and took photographs for “The Southern BBQ Trail,” a Southern Foodways Alliance documentary project. Subsequently, he was a member of the collective responsible for Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket (University of Texas Press, 2009).

Peer-Reviewed Publications:
"From Playa Girón to Luanda: Mercenaries and Internationalist Fighters" in The Tricontinental Revolution: Third World Radicalism and the Cold War. Edited by R. Joseph Parrott and Mark Atwood Lawrence. Cambridge University Press, 2022. 304-31.

The Bethesda Home: A Case Study of Older Adults, Charity, and Resistance in Progressive-Era Chicago,” Journal of Women’s History, Volume 33:3, Fall 2021. 110-132.

The United States and Africa in Oxford, Ohio,” Radical History Review, Issue 133, January 2019. Special Issue: Militarism and Capitalism: The Work and Wages of Violence. 131-47.

Private Military Companies and Neoliberal Adventure in Roll Hard (2013) and Executive Outcomes (2015),” The Journal of Popular Culture, Volume 51:6, December 2018. Special Issue: Revisiting Adventure. 1332-55.

’Frontier Risk’ and the Sino-American Scramble in the Sahel,” American Quarterly, Volume 69:3, September 2017. Special Issue: The Chinese Factor: Reorienting Global Imaginaries in American Studies. 653-73.

Remembering for Empire: The War with Tripoli and the Battle of Derna in US Memory,” Memory Studies, Volume 10:2, April 2017. 179-92.

Page last modified February 24, 2022