James McDougall
Laithwaite Fellow and Tutor in Modern History

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


My first degree was the MA in Modern Languages at St Andrews, followed by graduate degrees (MSt, DPhil) in Middle Eastern History and Politics at St Antony’s College, Oxford, where I finished my DPhil in 2002. I held a Junior Research Fellowship at St Antony’s Middle East Centre before moving to Princeton as an Assistant Professor in the History Department. In 2007, I came back to the UK to take up a post in London as Lecturer in the history of Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and then joined Trinity in 2009. Having started my studies 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 in 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 earlier work focused on the intersection of Islamic modernism and nationalism in colonial Algeria, and I continue to work on North African, especially Algerian, history and politics. Some of this has been collaborative work with colleagues in anthropology and political science. My current research is divided between two projects. One concerns ‘the everyday life of colonialism’ and the after-effects of empire in France and Africa, and I hold a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for this project (2014-17). The second focuses on the global history of Islam since the eighteenth century. I am also interested in historical methodology, the intersections of history and critical theory, and comparative historiography. I am the Academic Director of the University’s Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Historiography, which brings distinguished historians to Trinity each year for a program of lectures and workshops.

Selected Publications

  • Global and local in North Africa: Morocco and Algeria in perspective , ed. with Robert P. Parks (2013).
  • Saharan frontiers: Space and mobility in northwest Africa , ed. with Judith Scheele (2012).
  • History and the culture of nationalism in Algeria (2006).