Associate Professor
Modern Europe, Empire/Decolonization, International Organizations, Global Health, Travel

Old Main 300

Jessica Pearson (she/her) joined the Macalester faculty in 2016 and is an Associate Professor of European History, with a focus on Europe in the world. After growing up in Minnesota, Professor Pearson received her BA in History and French at Kalamazoo College in Michigan and she received her PhD in History and French Studies from New York University in 2013. 

As a researcher, Professor Pearson explores the history of European decolonization from a global vantage point. In her first book, The Colonial Politics of Global Health: France and the United Nations in Postwar Africa (Harvard University Press, 2018), Professor Pearson uses global public health as a lens to explore the clash between internationalism and imperialism in French Africa in the 1940s and 1950s. Click here to hear an interview about her book. 

Currently, Professor Pearson is working on a new research project, entitled “Traveling to the End of Empire: Leisure Tourism in the Era of Decolonization,” which is a global exploration of tourism and European decolonization in the second half of the twentieth century. She has conducted archival research in Aix-en-Provence, Dakar, London, Nantes, New York, Paris, Rabat, and Washington D.C. In the era of Covid-19, she has become more of an armchair time traveler, spending her research time perusing guidebooks, in-flight magazines, maps, and tourism brochures at her home in St. Paul.

At Macalester, Professor Pearson offers several core courses on the history of modern Europe in global perspective, including an introductory “un-survey” course entitled “Making Modern Europe.” She also teaches courses on women and gender, race and immigration, empire and decolonization, public health, internationalism, and travel and tourism.

Prior to joining the history department at Macalester, Professor Pearson was an Assistant Professor of European Studies at the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, and from 2013-2014 she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Professor Pearson is on sabbatical leave for the 2023-24 academic year.