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Dr Arthur Asseraf

Dr Arthur Asseraf

Lecturer in the History of France and the Francophone World

Cambridge CB3 9EF


I am a historian of modern France, North Africa, and the Western Mediterranean, with particular interests in the history of colonialism and information.

Born and raised in Paris, I first came to the UK to study at Cambridge in 2007. Since then, I have been an Examination Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and spent the 2016-7 year at the Institut Français du Proche-Orient in Beirut before returning to Cambridge to join the History Faculty.

Subject groups/Research projects

Modern European History:
World History:

Research Interests

My first book, Electric News in Colonial Algeria, looks at the transformation of news circulation in Algeria under French rule. Combining technological, social, and media history, I show how the intensification of media produced a colonial society that was more divided rather than more connected by drawing on a wide range of forms of news from songs and manuscripts to newspapers and radio, in French, Arabic, Spanish, and other languages. This project has led me to broader questions on the nature of news and the relationship between news and history.  

I am currently working on two new projects. The first is a microhistory of an Algerian interpreter for the French army in the 19th century who carefully manipulated information to generate a huge public scandal in France, West Africa, and Tunisia, attaining a level of political notoriety unprecedented for an Algerian Muslim subject of a modest background. The second project takes my research forward in time into the 1960s and 1970s, looking at the relationship between race and rumour in Fifth Republic France.

Research Supervision

I welcome inquiries from prospective students interested in the history of modern France and the French Empire, especially projects concerned with the history of media and/or colonialism and race.


For undergraduates, in Part I, I teach the Themes and Sources Option 'Fighting for Algeria, Fighting for France' using French primary sources. I convene Paper 18 (20th century European history) and lecture for Papers 17 and 23.

At the MPhil level, I teach an option on 'The Modern Mediterranean' for the Modern European and World History MPhils.

Key Publications

Electric News in Colonial Algeria, (Oxford University Press, 2019)

‘La mer immédiate: nouvelles, télégraphe et impérialisme en Méditerranée, 1798-1882’, Monde(s), 16/2, November 2019.

'"A New Israel": Colonial Comparisons and the Algerian Partition that Never Happened', French Historical Studies, 41:1, 2018.

'Making their own internationalism: Algerian Media and a few others the League of Nations Ignored, 1919-1943' in Tworek, Brendebach and Herzer (eds.) Exorbitant Expectations: International Organizations and the Media in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, (Routledge, 2018)

'La société coloniale face à l'actualité internationale: diffusion, contrôle, usages (1881-1899)', Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, 63:2, 2016, pp.110-132.

'Weapons of Mass Representation: Algerians in the French Parliament 1958-1962', in Eldridge and Aissaoui (eds.) Algeria Revisited: History, Culture and Identity (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Other Publications

What's so new about news?, Aeon Magazine

Charlie-Hebdo and the Limits of the Republic, Jadaliyya, (also in French and Turkish)

Faire peuple à Alger, Textures du Temps

The Politics of News in Colonial Algeria, Ottoman History Podcast