Professor James McDougall

Featured Publication
A History of Algeria

A History of Algeria

A History of Algeria (Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2017)

Covering a period of five hundred years, from the arrival of the Ottomans to the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, James McDougall presents an expansive new account of the modern history of Africa's largest country. Drawing on substantial new scholarship and over a decade of research, McDougall places Algerian society at the centre of the story, tracing the continuities and the resilience of Algeria's people and their cultures through the dramatic changes and crises that have marked the country. Whether examining the emergence of the Ottoman viceroyalty in the early modern Mediterranean, the 130 years of French colonial rule and the revolutionary war of independence, the Third World nation-building of the 1960s and 1970s, or the terrible violence of the 1990s, this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers in African and Middle Eastern history and politics, as well as those concerned with the wider affairs of the Mediterranean.




History and the Culture of Nationalism in Algeria (Cambridge Middle East Studies) 9 Mar 2009

History and the Culture of Nationalism in Algeria

Colonialism denied Algeria its own history; nationalism reinvented it. James McDougall charts the creation of that history through colonialism to independence, exploring the struggle to define Algeria's past and determine the meaning of its nationhood. Through local histories, he analyses the relationship between history, Islamic culture and nationalism in Algeria. He confronts prevailing notions that nationalism emancipated Algerian history, and that Algeria's past has somehow determined its present, violence breeding violence, tragedy repeating itself. Instead, he argues, nationalism was a new kind of domination, in which multiple memories and possible futures were effaced. But the histories hidden by nationalism remain below the surface, and can be recovered to create alternative visions for the future. This is an exceptional and engaging book, rich in analysis and documentation. It will be read by colonial historians and social theorists as well as by scholars of the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Modern Middle Eastern and African history
  • Global history of Islam since ca.1700
  • Modern and contemporary France, the French empire in Africa, and its legacies

My research addresses several related thematic and geographical fields, mainly in the period since c. 1700: the modern and contemporary Mediterranean; Middle Eastern, African and Islamic history, especially Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, but also the history of European imperialism in the Arab world, modern Arab intellectual and political history, and the global history of Islam since c.1700; the French colonial empire in Africa; the Sahara; nationalism and revolutionary movements in Asia and Africa; comparative imperial history; historiography and critical theory. 


  • Laïcité, sociologie et histoire contemporaine de l’islam

  • Secularity, sociology, and the contemporary history of Islam

  • Abd al-Qādir, al-amīr (Emir Abd el-Kader) (1808-1883)

  • Ben Bādīs, ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd' (1889-1940)

  • Algeria

  • Sovereignty, governance, and political community in the Ottoman empire and North Africa

  • The space of sovereignty, the shape of exile: Territory and movement in French Africa

  • The impossible Republic: The reconquest of Algeria and the decolonization of France, 1945-62

  • In the shadow of revolution

  • Culture as War by Other Means: Community, Conflict, and Cultural Revolution, 1967-1981

  • More

My doctoral students have worked on a range of topics including medicine and humanitarianism during the Algerian war of independence; social and gender justice-based readings of the Qur'an; the history of the nationalist right in Turkey; the end of the British empire in the Arabian Gulf; contemporary critical thought in North Africa; the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since 1973; historiography and history teaching in mandate Palestine; the cultural and political history of news and communications technology in colonial Algeria, and social memory in contemporary Algeria. I am always happy to hear from potential DPhil and Masters students interested in topics relating to the modern and contemporary Middle East, Africa, France and the French empire, nationalism, imperialism, or Islamic history since 1700.

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students  or any potential Masters students looking at Modern and contemporary Middle East, Africa, France and French empire, nationalism, imperialism, Islam. 

I currently teach:


Approaches to history GH13, Europe divided, 1914-1989
Foreign texts: Tocqueville GH14, The global twentieth century, 1930-2003
The French revolution and empire GH18, Eurasian empires, 1450-1800
Theories of the State: Aristotle, Hobbes. Rousseau, Marx GH19, Global and imperial history, 1750-1930
1919: Remaking the world FS22, The Middle East in the age of empire, 1830-1971
GH4, Nation, society and empire, 1815-1914 Disciplines of history


In the Media

Rear Vision: Algeria and the ghost president - ABC Radio, Sunday 24 March 2019

The media battle of Algiers | The Listening Post (Full)

Algeria - Bouteflika's allies abandon him - FRANCE 24 English