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Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth

Alexandra Paulin-Booth_Profile photo_Oct Cropped

RU Temporality, Humboldt-Universität

Postdoctoral Researcher, Academic Coordinator RU Temporality, Theory Network

Edwin-Redslob-straße 29
14195 Berlin

Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth is a historian of temporality, and is particularly interested in how understandings and experiences of time played a role in politics and intellectual life in France and the French empire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth was brought up in the U.K. and attended local state comprehensive school before studying at Durham University. There she completed an undergraduate degree in Combined Arts (the degree programme included History, English Literature, French Literature and Language, and Art History) and a Masters in Modern History.

Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth pursued her doctoral studies at the University of Oxford, where she completed a D.Phil. (Ph.D.) in 2017. She spent time on exchange at the École normale supérieure Paris–Saclay, and wrote up her thesis part-time while undertaking a Lectureship in Modern European and World History at Balliol College. She then returned to Durham as Assistant Professor before joining the Université Libre de Bruxelles as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She moved to Berlin to take up her position at SCRIPTS in January 2020.

Research Interests

  • Intellectual, political, and cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries;

  • Modern European history;

  • History of European empires in the 19th and 20th centuries;

  • History of France and the French empire (particularly in West Africa);

  • History of temporality, changing ideas about time, and related concepts (e.g. modernity, acceleration, utopias/uchronias/dystopias);

  • Far-left and far-right political movements;

  • Citizenship and race.

Current Research Projects at Scripts

Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth is currently finishing her first monograph, entitled Time, revolution, and the nation: temporality and politics in France between the Dreyfus Affair and the First World War. The book is under contract with Manchester University Press and will appear in their series ‘Studies in Modern French and Francophone History’ in 2022. It is a book about how political activists and thinkers understood and experienced time, and how their ideas about time shaped their ideologies and their actions. Using thinkers and activists drawn from the left and right of the political spectrum in France at the turn of the twentieth century, the book argues that time provides an important means of exploring how concepts such as nationalism, revolution, and social change were understood in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Time was contested terrain, and how people thought—and fought—about time was crucial for how they understood the world and developed ideas about how to change it.

Click here to hear more about this research: this is a talk Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth gave in 2019 at Edinburgh’s Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History. It’s based on a chapter of her first monograph exploring utopian and dystopian fiction in France at the turn of the 20th century.

Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth is also developing her next major research project, which asks how understandings of time shaped French colonialism and responses to the colonial project in West Africa between 1895 and 1940. While her earlier work concentrated on time-based disputes between and within particular political movements, this project explores clashing temporalities on a much broader scale. Colonialism was often configured by contemporary observers as an encounter of ‘modern’ and ‘primitive’ societies—forward-looking peoples in contrast to peoples of the past or peoples without time. But behind this ostensibly simple model there lay a diverse and often surprising set of ideas about time, modernity, and acceleration. This project will argue that time-based contestations and exchanges highlight that many of the political debates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were rooted in understandings of time. In short, this was an era during which time itself was central to a broader reconfiguration which had the emergence of modern political culture and globalisation at its heart.

Paulin-Booth, Alexandra 2022: Time, revolution, and the nation: temporality and politics in France between the Dreyfus Affair and the First World War, Manchester University Press.

Paulin-Booth, Alexandra 2021: ‘“Irregular rhythm”: empire and ideas of the present in interwar France’ in: Wright,  Julian / Fryxell, Allegra (eds): Time on a Human Scale: Experiencing the Present in Europe, 1860–1930, Oxford University Press,

Paulin-Booth, Alexandra/Kerry, Matthew 2021: ‘Activist times: temporality and political action in twentieth-century Europe’, Special Issue of the European Review of History 28(4): 475-483

Paulin-Booth, Alexandra 2016: ‘Donald Trump’s political slogan betrays a renewed political fixation on the past’, The Conversation (24 October 2016) (accessed 28 October 2021).

Paulin-Booth, Alexandra 2014: ‘A period of transition: political time in the thought of Jean Jaurès’ in Jeschke, Lisa / May, Adrian (eds): Matters of Time: Material Temporalities in Twentieth-Century French Culture, Oxford: Peter Lang, 26–39.

Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth is also a book reviewer for The English Historical Review (see her recent reviews on Christopher Clark’s Time and Power and Julian Wright’s Socialism and the Experience of Time).

Work in progress

‘Historical and global perspectives on temporality in nineteenth-century liberal thought’ (chapter for SCRIPTS edited volume on the nature of the liberal script).

‘“What we can hope for”: futurist fiction on the political fringes in fin-de-siècle France’ (article).

‘Letters of the League: radical right activism in Third Republican France’ (article).

‘Time in history and history in time’ (historiographical essay).

‘Citizenship in Senegal: empire and nation in French West Africa’ (article).