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Dr. Alexandra Paulin-Booth


RU Temporality, Humboldt-Universität

Postdoctoral Researcher, Academic Coordinator RU Temporality, Theory Network

Edwin-Redslob-straße 29
14195 Berlin

I am a historian of time, and I am 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. I completed my undergraduate and Masters degrees at Durham University before studying for a D.Phil. (Ph.D.) in History at the University of Oxford. I finished my doctoral studies in 2017. I have held teaching positions at Balliol College, Oxford (as Lecturer) and Durham (as Assistant Professor). Before moving to SCRIPTs I was a Research Fellow at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Research Interests

  • History of France and the French empire (particularly in West Africa)
  • Intellectual, political, and cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • History of temporality, changing ideas about time, and related concepts (e.g. modernity, acceleration)
  • History of far-left and far-right political movements

Current Research Projects at Scripts

I am currently completing my first monograph, which is provisionally entitled ‘Time and Radical Politics in France from the Dreyfus Affair to the First World War’. Using the thinkers and activists of the poles of left and right (principally socialists, syndicalists, and nationalists) in France between the 1890s and 1914 as a case study, this monograph 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. 


I am also developing my next major research project, which asks how understandings of time shaped French colonialism and the responses to the colonial project in West Africa between 1895 and 1940. While my earlier work concentrated on time-based disputes between and within particular political movements, this project explores clashes of 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 new 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—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. 


Click here for an audio file and a summary of a talk I gave last year at Edinburgh’s Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History. The talk is based on a chapter of my monograph exploring futurist fiction in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Example: Monographs, Edited Volumes / Special Issues, Journal Articles (peer reviewed), Book Chapters, Other Publications


Cultures of Time: Radical Politics in France between the Dreyfus Affair and the First World War. Monograph under contract with Manchester University Press’s ‘Studies in Modern French History’ series.


Co-editor with Matthew Kerry, ‘Time in Crisis: Time and Activism in Modern Europe’, special issue. Under review at the European Review of History.


Book chapter: ‘“Irregular rhythm”: empire and ideas of the present in interwar France’ in Julian Wright and Allegra Fryxell (eds), Time on a Human Scale: Experiencing the Present in Europe, 1860–1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press on behalf of Proceedings of the British Academy, 2021).


Book chapter: ‘A period of transition: political time in the thought of Jean Jaurès’ in L. Jeschke and A. May (eds), Matters of Time: Material Temporalities in Twentieth-Century French Culture (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2014), pp. 26–39.


I am also a book reviewer for The English Historical Review (recent reviews on Christopher Clark’s Time and Power and Julian Wright’s Socialism and the Experience of Time).