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

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Professor Jess Pearson 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 earned a BA in History and French from Kalamazoo College in 2006 and a 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 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-occupied Africa in the 1940s and 1950s. Click here to hear an interview about the book on the New Books Network.

Building on interests in the history of international organizations and the end of empire, Professor Pearson has also co-edited a volume on The United Nations and Decolonization, published by Routledge in 2020.

Currently, Professor Pearson is working on a book project entitled “Traveling to the End of Empire,” which explores how people moved through the decolonizing world in search of relaxation, discovery, and independence—both personal and political. Professor Pearson’s scholarship is based on archival research conducted in Aix-en-Provence, Dakar, London, Nantes, New York, Paris, Rabat, and Washington D.C. In the era of Covid-19, Professor Pearson has adopted a new identity as an armchair time traveler, perusing guidebooks, in-flight magazines, maps, and tourism brochures at home in St. Paul.

At Macalester, Professor Pearson offers several core courses on the history of modern Europe in global perspective as well as classes on gender and sexuality, race and immigration, empire and decolonization, public health, internationalism, and travel and tourism.

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

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