J. P. Daughton

Associate Professor of Modern European History and (by courtesy) French and Italian; Co-Director, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars Postdoctoral Program

At Stanford Since

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; M.Phil., Cambridge University; B.A., Amherst College
Headshot of Professor J. P. Daughton

Research Interests

Research Interests

I am an historian of modern Europe and European imperialism with a particular interest in political, cultural, and social history, as well as the history of humanitarianism. 

My first book, An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2006) tells the story of how troubled relations between Catholic missionaries and a host of republican critics shaped colonial policies, Catholic perspectives, and domestic French politics in the decades before the First World War.  Based on archival research from four continents, the book challenges the long-held view that French colonizing and “civilizing” goals were the product of a distinctly secular republican ideology built on Enlightenment ideals.  By exploring the experiences of religious workers, one of the largest groups of French men and women working abroad, the book argues that many “civilizing” policies were wrought in the fires of discord between missionaries and anti-clerical republicans – discord that indigenous communities exploited in responding to colonial rule.

My current project, entitled Humanity So Far Away: Violence, Suffering, and Humanitarianism in the Modern French Empire, places the successes and failures of colonial “civilizing” projects within the broader context of the development of European sensibilities regarding violence, global suffering, and human rights.  Based on research in archives on five continents, Humanity So Far Away explores the central role human suffering played as an experience, a moral concept, and a political force in the rise and fall of French imperialism from the late 1800s to the 1960s.  The book also considers how colonial practices increasingly intersected with efforts to establish norms of humane behavior – efforts most often led by non-state and international bodies, especially the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization.  Drawing on the methods of political, cultural, and intellectual history, my research ultimately aims to explore concretely the extent to which notions about empathy and humanitarianism spread (or failed to spread) from Europe to the outermost reaches of the globe in the twentieth century.

Current Research

Humanity So Far Away: Violence, Suffering, and Humanitarianism in the Modern French Empire (under contract with Oxford University press).

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Modern Europe, 1789-Present
  • Paris: Capital of the Modern World
  • Modern Europe: The 19th Century
  • European Society and Politics, 1850-1945
  • Modern France
  • The Witness in Modern History
  • The Ethics of Imperialism
  • Capitalism and It's Disontents
  • Cultures of Violence in Twentieth-Century Europe
  • Europe and the Colonial Experience
  • Modern Europe Research Seminar



Book cover "In God's Empire" by J.P. DaughtonIn God’s Empire: French Missionaries and the Modern World (co-edited with Owen White) (Oxford University Press, 2012)





Book Cover: An Empire Divided by J. P. DaughtongAn Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006; paperback 2008).
Winner, George Louis Beer Prize, American Historical Association
Winner, Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize, French Colonial Historical Society
A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title of 2007 




  • “ILO Expertise and Colonial Violence in the Interwar Years,” in Sandrine Kott and Joëlle Droux (eds.), Universalizing Social Rights: A History of the International Labour Organization and Beyond (London: Palgrave, 2013).
  • “Kings of the Mountains: Mayréna, Missionaries, and French Colonial Divisions in 1880s Indochina,” reprinted in Philippa Levine (ed.), The Rise and Fall of Modern Empires (London: Ashgate, 2013).
  • “Placing French Missionaries in the Modern World,” (with Owen White), in White and Daughton (eds.), In God’s Empire: French Missionaries and the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • “Behind the Imperial Curtain: International Humanitarian Efforts and the Critique of French Colonialism in the Interwar Years,” Special Issue: Toward a French History of Universal Values, French Historical Studies 34:3 (Summer 2011): 503-528.
  • “When Argentina Was ‘French’: Rethinking Cultural Politics and European Imperialism in Belle-Époque Buenos Aires,” Journal of Modern History 80 (December 2008): 831-864.
  • “Documenting Colonial Violence: The International Campaign Against Forced Labor during the Interwar Years,” Revue de l’Histoire de la Shoah, No. 189 (October, 2008).
  • “A Colonial Affair?: Dreyfus and the French Empire,” Historical Reflections / Réflexions historiques 31: 3 (Fall 2005): 469-84.
  • “Kings of the Mountains: Mayréna, Missionaries, and French Colonial Divisions in 1880s Indochina,” Itinerario 25: 3/4 (2001): 185 - 217.
  • “Recasting Pigneau de Béhaine: French Missionaries and the Politics of Colonial History,” in Nhung Tuyet Tran and Anthony Reid (eds.), Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006).
  • “Sketches of the Poilu’s World: Trench Cartoons from the Great War,” in Douglas Mackaman and Michael Mays (eds.), World War I and the Cultures of Modernity (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000).

Awards and Fellowships

  • Presidential Fund for Innovation in the Humanities, Stanford University, 2010.
  • Dean’s Fellow in the Humanities, Stanford University, 2008-2010
  • John Philip Coghlan Fellow, Stanford University, 2006-2008
  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship, 2006-2007
  • William and Flora Hewlett Endowment Fund Fellowship, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, 2005
  • Stanford Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University, 2002-2004
  • Pew Charitable Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center on Religion and Democracy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 2002-2003
  • Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2001-2002
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 2000-2001
  • Townsend Humanities Center Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley, 2000-2001
  • Mabelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fellowship, Stanford, California, 2000-2001
  • Fellowship and Travel Stipend, Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California, San Diego, 2000-2001
  • John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Prize, American Catholic Historical Association, 2000
  • Graduate Division Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley, 1999-2000
  • Henry Morse Stephens Memorial Travel Grant, U.C. Berkeley, 1999-2000
  • Sidney Hellman Ehrman Travel Grant, U.C. Berkeley, 1999-2000
  • J. William Fulbright Foundation Fellowship, France, 1998-1999
  • Allan Sharlin Memorial Fellowship, Institute for International Studies, U.C. Berkeley, 1998-1999
  • Social Science Research Grant, U.C. Berkeley, 1997
  • Research Grant, Center for German and European Studies, U.C. Berkeley, 1997
  • Mellon Summer Research Grant, U.C. Berkeley, 1997
  • Sather Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley, 1995-1996

Professional Service

  • Vice Chair, Department of History, 2013-14
  • Co-Director, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities Postdoctoral Program, Stanford University, 2008-present
  • Co-Director, Stanford French Culture Workshop, Stanford Humanities Center, 2003-Present
  • Section Editor, 1914-1918 on-line: International Encyclopedia of the First World War, Freie Universität Berlin, 2012- present
  • Editorial Board, Stanford University Press, 2012-Present
  • Editorial Board, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, 2009-2012
  • Pre-Major Advisor, Stanford University, 2011-2013
  • Judge, Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize, French Colonial Historical Society, 2009-2011
  • Organizing Committee, 2009 French Colonial Historical Society Conference, San Francisco
  • Book Review Advisory Panel, H-France, 2006-present
  • Mentor, Sophomore Mentor Program, 2005-2006
  • Graduate Studies Committee, Department of History, 2004-2006