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School of History

Dr Sarah Dunstan


Leverhulme Early Career Fellow



I work on ideas around rights, race and international order in twentieth century French, British and American empire. I received my PhD from the University of Sydney in 2018. Before joining Queen Mary in September 2020, I was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow with the International History Laureate at the University of Sydney, and a Postdoctoral Associate with the Leverhulme Women and the History of International Thought Project at the University of Sussex. I have held fellowships at Columbia University, New York, and at the Columbia Global Center in Paris, and my research has been supported by, amongst others, the Australian Research Council, the Fulbright Foundation, the John Frazer Memorial Fund and the European International Studies Association.



Research Interests:

My research is driven by the desire to rethink our contemporary understandings of international orders of race, rights and gender from the perspective of those who have traditionally been excluded from those histories. Study of twentieth century French, American and British empires, with their complex histories of global interactions as world powers, has been the primary focus of my research. My first book, Race, Rights and Reform: Black Activism across the French Empire and the United States from World War 1 to Cold War, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in March 2021. There I mapped Francophone black intellectual collaborations with African American activists on the international landscape over questions of human rights and citizenship from World War One through to the Cold War. I have published articles on questions of French empire and race in the Journal of Contemporary History, Callaloo and the Australasian Journal of American Studies. Further research exploring the relationship between decolonization and language in the French and British imperial contexts, and making the case for thinking through historical iterations of black internationalism and Pan-Africanism in relation to space and place, is forthcoming in the Journal of Modern History and the Journal of the History of Ideas respectively. I am also a co-editor of the Anthology of Women’s International Thought: Towards a New Canon, forthcoming June 2021 with Cambridge University Press. My new project explores how philosophical and cultural understandings of what it meant to be human were deployed in the mid-twentieth century to craft legal frameworks at the level of the international and the national. To do this, it brings together historical genealogies of human rights discourses, and studies of mid-century philosophical and cultural enquiries into the human condition. The perspectives of anti-imperial thinkers, and construction of race are crucial to this project. As part of this project, I have a chapter on the legal principle of self-determination forthcoming in Peacemaking and the Challenge of International Order after the Great War, edited by William Mulligan, Peter Jackson and Glenda Sluga and under contract with Cambridge University Press.




Race, Rights and Reform: Black Activism in the French Empire and the United States from World War 1 to Cold War, Cambridge University Press, February 2021. 


“The Capital of Race Capitals: Towards a Connective Cartography of Race Capitals,” Journal of the History of Ideas, (forthcoming, 2021).

"La Langue de nos maîtres: Linguistic Hierarchies, Dialect, and Canon Decolonization during and after the Présence Africaine Congress of 1956," Journal of Modern History, (forthcoming, 2021).

"Women's International Thought in the Twentieth‐Century Anglo‐American Academy: Autobiographical Reflection, Oral History and Scholarly Habitus," Gender & History, Early View, (March 2021).

‘“Une Nègre de drame”: Jane Vialle and the politics of representation in colonial reform, 1945-1953,’ Journal of Contemporary History, (January 2020): 1-21. 

‘Conflicts of Interest: The 1919 Pan-African Congress and the Wilsonian Moment,’ Callaloo, 39:1 (Winter 2016): 133-150. 

‘A Question of Allegiance: African American intellectuals, Présence Africaine and the 1956 Congrès des écrivains et artistes noirs,’ Australasian Journal of American Studies, 34:1, (July 2015):1-16. (Article received the James Holt Award for the best article published in the Australasian Journal of American Studies in the preceding two years. (2016). 

Chapters in Edited Collections:

‘“Pensez en juriste, parler en paysan”: International Law, Nationalism and the Possibilities of Self-determination in the Inter-war Period,’ in Peacemaking and the Challenge of International Order after the Great War, edited by William Mulligan, Peter Jackson and Glenda Sluga. Under contract with Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.

Glenda Sluga, David Goodman and Sarah C. Dunstan, ‘New York, NY: From the Statue of Liberty to the UN,’ in Sites of International Memory, edited by Glenda Sluga and Kate Darian-Smith. Under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming June 2021.

Edited Volume: Patricia Owens, Katharina Rietzler, Kimberly Hutchings and Sarah C. Dunstan (eds.,), Women’s International Thought: Towards A New Canon. Under contract with Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.

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