Shanti M. Singham

Photo of Shanti M. Singham

Professor of History and Africana Studies, Emerita

Spring 2019 Class Hours

Mon – 7:00 pm to 9:40 pm
Tue – 1:10 pm to 3:50 pm

Spring 2019 Office Hours



Growing up on the U.W.I. campus in Jamaica during the tumultuous yet promising years of independence, the Rodney crisis, and Michael Manley’s brave attempt to chart a third path for the Caribbean, Shanti Singham fell in love with history reading C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins and Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery. Moving to the United States for her undergraduate and graduate education in the 1970′s, her interests shifted, both because of fabulous teachers at Swarthmore and Princeton and because of the absence of Caribbean and Diaspora Studies during those years, to French and European history. Maintaining an interest in social protest movements, Singham’s Ph.D. focused on radical French activists female and male – in the pre-revolutionary era, the activities of whom she uncovered by working in French police archives and reading the illegal pamphlets they produced. Coming to Williams College as a Bolin Fellow in 1987, Singham has benefitted from the rich teaching culture here to return to her Caribbean roots, and to focus on the kind of transatlantic history she learned from James, Williams, and Rodney. Besides teaching a wide array of world history courses, and publishing in the areas of the Haitian Revolution and the history of Muslim-French relations, Singham has acted as faculty sponsor for SOCA (Students of Caribbean Ancestry), has organized teach-ins against the Iraq War, has taken students to work in New Hampshire on presidential campaigns, has taken students to Washington D.C. to protest the Tar Sands Pipeline, has been a strong supporter of the student-led movement to Divest Williams College from Fossil Fuels, and works with students outside of the classroom in numerous activist endeavors. She is currently a member of both the History Department and the Africana Studies Program.

Selected Publications

“From Cosmopolitan Anti-Colonialism to Liberal Imperialism: French Intellectuals and Muslim North Africa in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries,” in Into Print: Limits and Legacies of the Enlightenment.  Essays in Honor of Robert Darnton, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011

“France, Algeria, Iraq:Teaching and Activism in a Time of War,” 2006

“Imbued With Patriotism: The Maupeou Crisis and the Politicization of the Mémoires secrets,” in The Mémoires secrets and the Secrets of the Enlightenment, Voltaire Foundation, History of the Periodical Press series, ed. Bernadette Fort and Jeremy Popkin, Oxford University Press, Fall, 1998

“Betwixt Cattle and Men: Jews, Blacks and Women and the Declaration of the Rights of Man,” in The French Idea of Freedom. The Old Regime and the Declaration of Rights of 1789, ed. Dale Van Kley, Stanford University Press, 1994

“Vox populi, vox dei: les jansénistes pendant la révolution Maupeou,” (“The Voice of the People is the Voice of God: Jansenist activists during the Maupeou Revolution,”) in Jansénisme etRévolution.” Actes du colloque de Versailles tenu au Palais des congrés les 13 et 14 octobre 1989, réunis par Catherine Maire, Paris, 1990

Ph. D., Princeton University, Department of History, June 1991; Dissertation:”‘A Conspiracy of Twenty Million Frenchmen’” Public Opinion, Patriotism, and the Assault on Absolutism During the Maupeou Years, 1770-1775,” currently being revised as a book manuscript, entitled Rehearsal for Revolution. The Maupeou Crisis and the Making of Political Consciousness in France, 1771-1774

Research Interests

Marx, Marxism, and Socialism; Activism; the French, Haitian, and Caribbean Revolutions; Climate Change and Environmental Activism in Europe and the Caribbean; Muslims and Africans in Europe; Black France and Diaspora Studies; Racism and the Enlightenment.

Theses Advised

Kirby Neuner, ’15The United Nations in Haiti: A Turbulent Relationship in an Age of Shifting Conflict

Robert Bland, ’07Seeing Like an Empire: The Uganda Railway and the Failure of the British Mission in Kenya, 1888-1923 [Co-advisor]

Ben Cronin, 05Revolutionary Frontier. Agrarian Insurrection and Backcountry Resistance in Revolutionary New England, 1763-1813

Alexandra Orme, ’04Madame Roland and Olympe de Gouges: A Comparative Approach to Women’s Claims to Political Rights in the French Revolution, 1789-1793

Elisa Beller, ’01Truth and Its Footsoldiers On The March: The Politics of the Intellectual in the Dreyfus Affair

Dayo Mitchell, ’97“The Little Island Is Still the Seat of Real Liberty”: Thomas Picton, Trinidad, and A New Vision of Empire, 1797-1812 [Co-advisor]

Igor Timofeyev, ’96Russian Liberal Nationalism, 1985-1990

Stephanie Brown, ’89William Wordsworth: Politics and Poetics, 1790-1805 [Co-advisor]

Program Connections at Williams

Africana Studies