James McDougall
Laithwaite Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, Dean

My research covers Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African, and modern Islamic history, and modern France and the French colonial empire in Africa.


I went to a comprehensive school in County Durham and studied modern languages at St Andrews in Scotland before doing my graduate work in modern Middle Eastern history and politics at St Antony’s College, Oxford. I finished my DPhil there in 2002, and then held a Junior Research Fellowship at St Antony’s Middle East Centre. I moved to Princeton in 2004 as an Assistant Professor in the history department, and came back to the UK in 2007 to take up a post in London as Lecturer in the history of Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies. I joined Trinity in 2009. Having started out in languages and literature, I retain a strong interest in cultural and intellectual history as well as in politics and global history, and in the various intersections between the Arab world, Africa, and Europe.


At Trinity, I teach tutorials (to groups of two or three students) in nineteenth and twentieth century European and World history, historical methods, and some more specialised subjects, e.g. the French revolution, the history of European political thought. With colleagues in college, I teach a class in comparative history and historiography for second year students. For the Faculty, I lecture on twentieth century history and organise and teach an option on modern Middle Eastern history. I supervise master’s and doctoral dissertations in modern and contemporary Middle Eastern and North African history, and in French and comparative imperial history.


My first book focused on the intersection of Islamic modernism and nationalism in colonial Algeria, and a more general History of Algeria, covering the period 1516-2016, was published in 2017. I remain interested in North African history and politics and have also done collaborative work on the region with colleagues in anthropology and political science. This has led to books on space and mobility in the Sahara and on the local effects of globalisation in Algeria and Morocco. I am currently writing Empire in Fragments, a book on the everyday life of French colonialism in Africa and the aftereffects of empire in France. Research for this project was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship in 2014-17. I am also working on aspects of West African history, and on the global history of Islam since the eighteenth century. More generally, I am interested in historical methodology, the intersections of history and critical theory, comparative historiography and the history of historical writing.

Selected Publications

  • Nation, society and culture in North Africa (Routledge, 2003)
  • History and the culture of nationalism in Algeria (Cambridge UP, 2006)
  • Saharan frontiers: Space and mobility in northwest Africa with Judith Scheele (Indiana UP, 2012)
  • Global and local in North Africa: Morocco and Algeria in perspective with Robert P. Parks (Routledge, 2015)
  • A History of Algeria (Cambridge UP, 2017)