Doctoral Candidate

Entered 2016

375 Cohen Hall


B.A., Comparative Literature and French, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

My research centers on boundaries, tensions, and interfaces between science and politics in colonial and postcolonial context. I study how technical knowledge became a feature of empire and a resource for activists, professionals, and experts to contest colonial rule. Questions of control, hierarchy, and violence tend to lead me to archives of biomedical, social, and environmental sciences. My research focuses on twentieth-century North Africa in terms of time and place. From this vantage point, I trace transnational debates, networks, and circulations across the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and I explore the role of technical expertise in the emergence and functioning of international organizations and institutions.

My dissertation considers the importance of radiation risk for the history of decolonization in Algeria. Conducted in the Algerian Sahara, France’s first nuclear tests (1960-66) coincided with the War for Algerian Independence (1954-62), the creation of the Algerian nation-state, and the end of empire in North Africa. My project examines how scientific assessments of radiation risk intersected with political arguments for and against national independence in Algeria and across Africa. In order to situate Algeria not only in the history of anti-colonialism but also in the history of the nuclear age, I draw on international archives such as U.S. diplomatic records, French administrative documents, UN transcripts, and published material from Algeria. 

Past and ongoing projects include histories of colonial agronomy and citrus production in Algeria; labor migration, health care, and anticolonial nationalism among North African physicians in Paris; transformations in psychiatric understandings of culture and therapeutic practices during decolonization in Africa and South Asia; and transnational implications of colonial reform in North Africa for American observers reflecting on race, democracy, and capitalism in the U.S. South. 

Research support has come from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for Arabic, Penn Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Eisenhower and Johnson Presidential Libraries.

Research Interests

science and empire; science and technology studies; biomedical sciences; social sciences; expertise and government; health and safety; race, labor, economy; postcolonial history; history of North Africa; international history; history of twentieth century

Selected Work

 “A Ray of Sunshine on French Tables”: Citrus Fruit, Colonial Agronomy, and French Rule in Algeria (1930–1962)" Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, Vol. 49 No. 3, June 2019: 241-272.

Faculty Bookshelf