I 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 most recent book, In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism (W. W. Norton, 2021), tells the story of one of the deadliest construction projects in history. Between 1921 and 1934, French colonial interests recruited -- most often by force -- more than 100,000 men, women, and children to work on a 500-kilometer stretch of rail between Brazzaville and the Atlantic Coast. In the end, tens of thousands of Africans were dead, killed by mistreatment, starvation, and disease. The book painstakingly recounts the experiences of local communities in the face of colonial economic development, considers why the railroad witnessed such extraordinary violence and suffering, and explores the strategies defenders of the train used to justify the loss of so many African lives.

I am also the author of An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2006), a book that 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. A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, An Empire Divided was awarded the George Louis Beer Prize for the best book in international history from the American Historical Association, as well as the Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize from the French Colonial Historical Society.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor, History

Administrative Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Department of History, Stanford University (2004 - 2010)
  • Associate Professor, Department of History and (by courtesy) French and Italian, Stanford University (2010 - 2021)
  • Professor, Department of History and (by courtesy) French and Italian (2021 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • Research fellowship, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society (2015)
  • Research Grant, Stanford Center for African Studies (2015)
  • Faculty Fellow, Stanford Humanities Center (2014-15)
  • Dean's Fellow in the Humanities, Stanford University (2008 - 2010)
  • John Philip Coghlan Fellow, Stanford University (2006 - 2008)
  • William and Flora Hewlett Endowment Fund Fellowship, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University (2005)
  • Graduate Division Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley (1999 - 2000)
  • Allan Sharlin Memorial Fellowship, Institute for International Studies, U.C. Berkeley (1998 - 1999)
  • Sather Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley (1995 - 1996)
  • J. William Fulbright Foundation Fellowship, J. William Fulbright Foundation, France (1998 - 1999)
  • John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Prize, American Catholic Historical Association (2000)
  • Fellowship and Travel Stipend, Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California, San Diego (2000 - 2001)
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Foundation (2000 - 2001)
  • Dissertation Fellowship, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (2001 - 2002)
  • Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize, French Colonial Historical Society (2007)
  • George Louis Beer Prize, American Historical Association (2008)
  • Stanford Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University (2002 - 2004)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, Editorial Board, Stanford University Press (2012 - 2018)
  • Peer Reviewer, Articles, Journal of Modern History, French Historical Studies, French Colonial History
  • Member, Book Review Advisory Panel, H-France (2006 - 2010)
  • Judge/Chair, Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize Committee, French Colonial History Society (2009 - 2011)
  • Section Editor, 1914-1918 on-line: International Encyclopedia of the First World War (2012 - Present)
  • Member, Editorial Board, Humanity: An International Journal if Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development (2009 - 2011)
  • Member, Program Committee, French Historical Studies Annual Conference (2012 - 2012)
  • Member, Program Committee, French Colonial Historical Society Conference (2009 - 2009)
  • Member, Executive Board, French Colonial History Society (2008 - Present)
  • Member, Comite de redaction, Incidence: Revue semestrielle de philosophie, de literature et de sciences humaines et sociales (2004 - Present)
  • Member, Program Committee, French Historical Studies Annual Conference, Stanford (2005 - 2005)
  • Project Screener, International Dissertation Research Fellowships, Social Science Research Council (2004 - 2006)
  • Project Screener, Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), France (2008 - 2008)
  • Project Screener, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2013 - 2013)
  • Peer reviewer, books, Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, University of Nebraska Press, Wiley-Blackwell, Palgrave-Macmillan (UK), Princeton University Press, Duke University Press, University of California Press, Routledge Press
  • Project Screener, Stanford Humanities Center
  • Co-Director, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities Postdoctoral Program (2008 - Present)
  • Co-Director, Stanford French Culture Workshop (2005 - Present)
  • Member, Advisory Committee, The Europe Center (2010 - Present)
  • Chair, Historical Conversations Committee, Department of History (2011 - Present)
  • Search Committee Member, Francophonie, Department of French and Italian (2010 - 2011)
  • Member, Junior Faculty Renewal Committee, Department of History (2010 - 2010)
  • Co-Director, Stanford Humanities Fellows Program (2007 - 2008)
  • Director, Stanford French Culture Workshop, Stanford Humanities Center (2003 - 2005)
  • Member, Graduate Studies Committee, Department of History (2004 - 2006)
  • Member, Graduate Studies Committee, Department of History (2009 - 2010)
  • Member, Modern Europe Search Committee, Department of History (2008 - 2010)
  • Mentor, Sophomore Mentor Program (2005 - 2006)
  • Member, Faculty Appointments Committee, Department of History (2005 - 2006)
  • Member, Faculty Appointments Committee, Department of History (2007 - 2008)
  • Member, Faculty Appointments Committee, Department of History (2010 - 2011)
  • Faculty Secretary, Department of History (2005 - 2006)
  • Conference Co-organizer and Panel Chair, Eighth Annual Berkeley Symposium on the Visual Arts, U.C. Berkeley (1996 - 1996)
  • Panel Chair, "French Political Economy in the Colonies and Beyond," Gimon Conference on Political Economy, Stanford University Library (2004 - 2004)
  • Peer Reviewer, Articles, Catholic Historical Review, History Compass, Journal of Vietnamese Studies
  • Peer Reviewer, Articles, International Journal of Middle East Studies, European History Quarterly

Program Affiliations

  • Center for Human Rights and International Justice

Professional Education

  • B.A, Amherst College, Massachusetts, European Studies and Anthropology (1992)
  • M.Phil., Cambridge University, England, European Studies (1994)
  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, History (2002)

2021-22 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • “The ‘Pacha Affair’ Reconsidered: Violence and Colonial Rule in Interwar French Equatorial Africa,” Journal of Modern History Daughton, J. P. 2019; 91 (September): 493-524

    View details for DOI 10.1086/704569

  • ILO Expertise and Colonial Violence in the Interwar Years Universalizing Social Rights: A History if the International Labour Organization and Beyond Daughton, J. P. edited by Kott, S., Droux, J. Palgrave. 2013
  • Placing French Missionaries in the Modern World In God's Empire: French Missionaries and the Modem World White, O., Daughton, J. P. edited by White, O., Daughton, J. P. Oxford University Press. 2012
  • In God's Empire: French Missionaries and the Modern World edited by Daughton, J. P., White, O. Oxford University Press. 2012
  • Behind the Imperial Curtain: International Humanitarian Efforts and the Critique of French Colonialism in the Interwar Years FRENCH HISTORICAL STUDIES Daughton, J. P. 2011; 34 (3): 503-528
  • When Argentina Was "French": Rethinking Cultural Politics and European Imperialism in Belle-Epoque Buenos Aires JOURNAL OF MODERN HISTORY Daughton, J. P. 2008; 80 (4): 831-864
  • An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism,1880-1914 Daughton, J. P. Oxford University Press. 2008
  • Temoignages sur la violence coloniale: la campagne internationale menee dans l'entredeux- guerres contre le travail force Revue de l'Histoire de la Shoah Daughton, J. P. 2008; 189
  • Recasting Pigneau de Behaine: French Missionaries and the Politics of Colonial History VietNam: Borderless Histories Daughton, J. P. edited by Tran, N. T., Reid, A. University of Wisconsin Press. 2008; 2nd: 290–324.
  • An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism,1880-1914 Daughton, J. P. Oxford University Press. 2006
  • A colonial affair?: Dreyfus and the French empire HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS-REFLEXIONS HISTORIQUES Daughton, J. P. 2005; 31 (3): 469-483
  • Kings of the Mountains: Mayrena, Missionaries, and French Colonial Divisions in 1880s Indochina Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction Daughton, J. P. 2001; 25 (3/4): 185-217
  • Sketches of the Poilu's World: Trench Cartoons from the Great War World War I and the Cultures of Modernity Daughton, J. P. edited by Mackaman, D., Mays, M. University Press of Mississippi. 2000