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School of History

Dr Leslie James


Senior Lecturer in Global History

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5743
Room Number: ArtsTwo 2.11


I joined Queen Mary in 2017. Prior to this I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Birmingham, Department of African Studies and Anthropology and a Lecturer in World History at the University of Cambridge. 

My broad interests include print cultures, imperial history and the history of anti-imperialism, decolonization, the Cold War, and African and Caribbean history.


Research Interests:

My research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), and the Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies (Yale), and I have been host to a British Academy Visiting Fellowship with Dr. Monsuru Muritala (University of Ibadan). I am part of the AHRC funded Afro-Asian Research Networks Collective.

My research examines the political and intellectual history of Africa and the African diaspora, with particular interest in black radical discourses and the global and local dimensions of anti-colonial movements in the twentieth century. I have completed two books, one on the political practice of the anti-colonial organiser, George Padmore, and a co-edited volume on Decolonization and the Cold War. George Padmore and Decolonization from Below emphasizes the strategies and tactics of a central figure of radical anti-colonial movements in the first half of the twentieth century

My current work now focuses on the intellectual debates contained outside of the structures of formal text manuscripts and, rather, in the everyday letters, editorials, and news items of the ephemeral press. I am examining newspapers in West Africa and the Caribbean as creative sites of circulation in the late colonial period. 


Book Projects

George Padmore and Decolonization from Below: Pan-Africanism, the Cold War, and the 
End of Empire, 1939-1959 (Palgrave, Cambridge Imperial and Postcolonial Studies Series, 2015) 

The Moving Word: West African and Caribbean newspapers and the dialogues of decolonization (in progress)

Edited Books

Decolonization and the Cold War: Negotiating Independence (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2015). With E. Leake.



‘Blood Brothers: colonialism and fascism as relations in interwar West Africa and the Caribbean’ American Historical Review 127, no. 2 (Summer 2022): 634-663.

"Colonial Public Spheres and the Worlds of Print," Itinerario 40, no. 2 (2020). With Emma Hunter.

'"Essential things such as typewriters": Caribbean trade unionism and the politics of expertise in the project for a new Africa,' Journal of Social History 53, no. 2 (Winter 2019). 

The Afro-Asian Networks Research Collective, "Manifesto: Networks of Decolonization in Asa and Africa", Radical History Review, 131, (May 2018). 

‘The Flying Newspapermen and the Time-Space of Late Colonial Nigeria,’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 60, no. 3 (2018): 569-598.

“Trans-Atlantic Passages: black identity construction in West African and West Indian newspapers, 1935-1950”. In D. Peterson, S. Newell, and E. Hunter (eds.) African Print Cultures. (University of Michigan Press, 2016): 49-74. 

“Ambiguity and Imprint: British racial logics, colonial commissions, and the creolisation of Britain in the 1930s and 1940s”. With D. Whittall. Calalloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters 39, no. 1 (2016): 166-184.

“Locating Black Radical Thought” (review essay) Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal 13, no. 1 (2016), Article 3. 

“‘Playing the Russian Game’: black radicalism, the press, and Colonial Office attempts to control anti-colonialism in the early Cold War, 1946-1950” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 43, no. 3 (2015): 509-534.

Other Publications

“What lessons on fascism can we learn from Africa’s colonial past?” Africa is a country (24 January, 2017) 

“Activating the Past” The Critique Magazine (September-October 2016)

I am part of the Afro-Asian Visions research project and blog


Current PHD Students

  • Ngozi Edeagu – Writing back to Empire: Newspapers, Non-Elites and Decolonisation in the Global Public Sphere, 1937-1957
  • Olivia Wyatt – "If You're Brown, You Can Stick Around": Complexions in Black Britain, c.1930-85.

Public Engagement


“The Padmore Network: the Man Behind the Scenes of Pan-Africanism” 


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