Jessica Pearson

Assistant Professor of History at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Jessica is an Assistant Professor of History at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She received her PhD in History and French Studies from New York University in 2013. She was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Tulane University and has also taught in the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Jessica was a participant in the 8th International Seminar on Decolonization in 2013 and was a summer fellow with the Reluctant Internationalists at Birkbeck in 2015.

Jessica’s research explores the confrontation between imperialism and internationalism after 1945. Her first monograph, The Colonial Politics of Global Health: France and the United Nations in Postwar Africa (Harvard, 2018), explores the intersection of two of the most important phenomena in the post-World War II world: the emergence of the United Nations system and the disintegration of European empires in Africa. Using colonial and international health interventions in French Africa as a lens, the book answers two interconnected questions: first, what were the implications of decolonization for the relationship between European empires and the broader international system? And second, how did the end of empire and the expanding reach of international organisations in the postwar period shape the more intimate domains of family health and social development in Africa? The book argues that broader political trends of anti-colonialism and decolonization profoundly shaped the landscape of postwar health cooperation in Africa, limiting the possibilities for truly global action while also encouraging new forms of medical cooperation between colonial empires.

Jessica is currently working on a second book project, entitled “Traveling to the End of Empire: Leisure Tourism in the Era of Decolonization.” This global history will explore the crucial role that travel and tourism played in the decolonization process and will consider how decolonization shaped travel patterns and tourism practices in both Europe and former colonies.

Keywords: Africa; Britain; empires and decolonisation; Europe; France; globalization; health and medicine; international development; international organisations and NGOs; International relations and diplomacy; travel; United Nations.