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Brooke Durham

Assistant Professor

Teaching Fields

  • Modern Europe
  • France
  • French Empire
  • Decolonization


  • Ph.D., Stanford University, 2022
  • M.A., Stanford University, 2017
  • B.A., Pennsylvania State University, 2015

Research Interests

Dr. Durham is a historian of France and the French Empire. Her research approaches the end of the French Empire through local, interpersonal interactions in France and Africa after 1945. Dr. Durham examines how students, social workers, teachers, and international volunteers negotiated the politics of the Cold War, development, and decolonization.

Dr. Durham is currently engaged in two research projects. The first is a book project based on her dissertation, "Politics Aside: North Africans, Europeans, and the Fight to Transform Postwar Algeria, 1945-1975." In the midst of a conservative European settler society and a violent war of decolonization, the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), this book traces European and Algerian efforts to work together on human development projects. European and Algerian teachers, social workers, students, and international volunteers managed to find common cause in assisting the most marginalized Algerians. They sought to improve Algerians' access to education, social services, and medical care. Those engaged in these projects framed their actions as politically neutral to evade police repression and to attract people from a wide variety of political and religious backgrounds to their development work. But performing politically neutral development work not so straightforward. In fact, postwar development initiatives were central to intensely political debates over sovereignty and relations of power between European imperial powers and their colonies. This research demonstrates just how difficult it was to overcome the profound iniquities of colonial rule and the impossibility of claiming political neutrality while engaging in development work.

Dr. Durham’s second book project, Students of Decolonization: European and African Student Exchanges at the End of Empire, also approaches the politics of decolonization through interpersonal encounters. Drawing on a growing literature on postwar youth activism, culture, and politics in Europe, this book examines how French and African high school and university students negotiated the end of empire through educational travel and short-term assignments as technical assistants abroad.

Dr. Durham teaches courses on the French Empire and Modern European history. She advises graduate students working on Modern France, Europe, and North and West African history.

Courses Offered

  • HIST 102: European History since 1600
  • HIST 209: Twentieth Century Europe
  • HIST 314: France since 1815
  • HIST 417: World War II in Europe
  • HIST 717/718: Graduate Readings/Research in Modern European History


“The French Army and Primary Education during the Algerian War,” Marshall Beier and Jana Tabak, eds., Childhoods in Peace and Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), 123-142. 

’Une exception éducative’: The Service des Centres Sociaux in Algeria, 1955-1962,” Damiano Matasci, Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo, Hugo Gonçalves Dores, eds., Education and Development in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa: Policies, Paradigms, and Entanglements, 1890s-1980s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 55-82.