Dr Arianne Sedef Urus

Assistant Professor of Early American History
Fellow at Christ's College
staff member

I am an environmental and legal historian of the Atlantic World. I received my BA in history from Northwestern University and my PhD in history from New York University. Prior to my arrival at Cambridge I was a lecturer on History and Literature at Harvard, a postdoctoral fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and an associate editor at the Radical History Review.

I'm currently working on my first book project, Common Shores: A Political Ecology of the Eighteenth-Century Newfoundland Cod Fisheries, which is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press. Common Shores concerns the links between the environment, law, and empire in the early modern Atlantic World. It is about interimperial resource management regimes and Franco-British competition over the Newfoundland cod fisheries in the eighteenth century. This study of the Newfoundland fishery shows a different model of empire-building in the Atlantic World to that which historians have previously identified, premised on the strategic sharing of natural resources rather than exclusive possession of them. Moreover, this model was not one crafted purely at the imperial center, but rather was the product of interactions from top to bottom, across cultures, across national imperial regimes, and across oceans. An article based on this research has appeared in Environmental History.

My new research project, Ottoman Florida, looks at the failed eighteenth-century British colony of New Smyrna in East Florida to explore how questions of environmental justice between British, Spanish, Ottoman, and Muscogee Creek inhabitants intersected with ideas about climate and wider interimperial geopolitics.

I welcome inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in early America and the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic World, especially in environmental history, legal history, and political economy.

I teach in Part I of the Tripos. For Part IA, I offer supervisions on the outline paper "The Global Eighteenth Century" and lecture on the outline paper "Early Modern Britain." For Part IB, I co-convene the research paper, "Research Themes in American History." I offer an MPhil option called "Environmental History of Early America," and I supervise for the MPhil programs in American History and the Early Modern World.


Tags & Themes


Christ's College
St. Andrew's St.




"'A Spirit of Encroachment: Trees, Cod, and the Political Ecology of Empire in the Newfoundland Fisheries, 1763-1783," Environmental History 28, no. 1 (2023): 85-108.