School of Humanities and Sciences
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Associate Professor of History and, by courtesy, of French and Italian
BioI am an historian of modern Europe and European imperialism with a particular interest in political, cultural, and social history, as well as the history of humanitarianism.
My first book, An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2006) tells the story of how troubled relations between Catholic missionaries and a host of republican critics shaped colonial policies, Catholic perspectives, and domestic French politics in the decades before the First World War. Based on archival research from four continents, the book challenges the long-held view that French colonizing and “civilizing” goals were the product of a distinctly secular republican ideology built on Enlightenment ideals. By exploring the experiences of religious workers, one of the largest groups of French men and women working abroad, the book argues that many “civilizing” policies were wrought in the fires of discord between missionaries and anti-clerical republicans – discord that indigenous communities exploited in responding to colonial rule.
My current project, entitled Humanity So Far Away: Violence, Suffering, and Humanitarianism in the Modern French Empire, places the successes and failures of colonial “civilizing” projects within the broader context of the development of European sensibilities regarding violence, global suffering, and human rights. Based on research in archives on five continents, Humanity So Far Away explores the central role human suffering played as an experience, a moral concept, and a political force in the rise and fall of French imperialism from the late 1800s to the 1960s. The book also considers how colonial practices increasingly intersected with efforts to establish norms of humane behavior – efforts most often led by non-state and international bodies, especially the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization. Drawing on the methods of political, cultural, and intellectual history, my research ultimately aims to explore concretely the extent to which notions about empathy and humanitarianism spread (or failed to spread) from Europe to the outermost reaches of the globe in the twentieth century.
Assistant Professor of History
BioI am a historian of western Europe and the Mediterranean, primarily during the high and late Middle Ages. Much of my research tries to understand how law and society interact with each other, especially where legal norms conflict with social practices. Another strand of my research explores the history of economic life and economic thought, especially medieval debates over usury and moneylending. I have also written on the circulation of goods, people, and ideas in the medieval Mediterranean.
My current book project uses the banishment of Jewish and Christian moneylenders as a lens for exploring the origins of mass expulsion in late medieval Europe. A second ongoing project examines the ways in which medieval canon law was adapted, reinterpreted, or resisted in local contexts in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Born and raised in western Canada, I did my undergraduate and doctoral work at Harvard University, earning an MPhil in Medieval History from the University of Cambridge along the way. Before coming to Stanford, I was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.