Dr Sarah Dunstan
- Lecturer in the International History of Modern Human Rights (History)
My research is driven by the desire to understand how 19th and 20th century understandings of what it means to be human shaped ideas around human rights and citizenship rights. I look at this in three specific ways:
- Through the lens of race and gender;
- Through the framework of international relations and international law; and
- Through the history of policy formation.
My first book, Race, Rights and Reform: Black Activism in the French Empire and the United States from World War I to the Cold War, maps collaborations between black activists in Africa, France and the United States over questions of human rights and citizenship from 1919 until 1962. During this period, black scholars and activists grappled with the connection between race and access to citizenship and rights in the respective republican democracies of the United States and France. Race, Rights and Reform brings the independent archives of black activists into conversation with the official records of American and French governments as well as international institutions such as the League of Nations, the United Nations, UNESCO and the Comintern. In so doing, it offers a new way of understanding twentieth century thinking about race and rights in the French empire and the United States, as well as in international institutions such as the United Nations.
My new project, which I am pursuing through a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, is titled: “Crises of Man: Crafting Human Rights and Citizenship in the Twentieth Century”. The project explores how key philosophical and cultural understandings of what it meant to be human shaped thinking about citizenship and rights in the international legal sphere at mid-century. Through the frame of a series of ‘crises’ in world order such as the Great Depression and the Second World War, my research questions how ideas about humanity were deployed across the empires of France and Britain, and the world’s emergent “super-power”, the United States, to construct legal categories of citizenship and international human rights law.
The questions my historical research raises remain pressing in our contemporary moment. Through my work with the Scottish Council on Global Affairs, I work to place this expertise at the service of policy makers.
Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship: "Crisis of Man", 2020-2023
Scottish Council on Global Affairs Small Grant: "Citizenship in Europe", 2022
British Academy Small Grants: "Race in Modern Intellectual History: Historicising an Idea in Time and Space," 2022
Carnegie Research Workshop Grant: "Rethinking Strategy" with PI Phillips P. O'Brien, and alongside Brad MacKay, Catherine Casler, John Amis, Martin Kornberger, Mathilde von Bulow, and Peter Jackson (2022)
European International Studies Association ECR Workshop Grant (2019)
I welcome applications from potential PhD candidates that fall broadly within my areas of expertise in Western European and American history, especially on the following themes:
- histories of human rights and citizenship;
- international institutions and international law;
- anticolonialism and decolonisation;
- gender and race.
I am always delighted to hear about potential new projects, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!
Professional activities & recognition
- 2020 - 2023: Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship
- 2022: History of the Human Sciences
Professional & learned societies
- 2022: Fellow, Royal Historical Society
Before joining the University of Glasgow in January 2022, I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. I have held fellowships at Columbia University, New York, and at the Columbia Global Center in Paris; the University of Sydney and the University of Sussex. My research has been supported by, amongst others, the British Academy, the Australian Research Council, the Fulbright Foundation, the John Frazer Memorial Fund and the European International Studies Association. I received my PhD from the University of Sydney in 2018.