3 Feb 2021 12:30pm - 2:00pm Online Event


The seminars provided a supportive, intellectually stimulating environment in which to share work and receive feedback from people in various disciplines.
– Chana Morgenstern (Early Career Fellow in Michaelmas 2018)

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work-in-Progress Seminar Series. All welcome but please email fellowships@crassh.cam.ac.uk to book your place and to request readings. 

Dr Arthur Asseraf

Since 1945, there has been a major though uneven worldwide shift in understandings of race. As historians of science have shown, the new international order founded after the defeat of Nazi Germany promoted a denial of biological theories of race through newly-founded organisations like UNESCO. This did not mean that racial thinking disappeared entirely, but that its epistemic basis shifted as racial difference was determined to be no longer biologically proven. If race neither disappeared nor simply continued under new guises, then how do we describe this change historically? Denying race, after all, is also a way of speaking it into existence.

What happens to racial categories when the state denies that race exists? My project looks at how race could be affirmed, denied, or hinted at in France between 1958 and 1995. From a local understanding in the specific context of Fifth Republic France, this study will contribute to a global history of race in the post-war period, by looking at it from an unusual perspective: speech. I will ask when, where, how, and by whom race could be articulated by focusing on the intersection of administrative practice, social science research and media.


Dr Arthur Asseraf is a Cambridge Early Career Fellow and will be at CRASSH in Lent Term 2021.

Dr Arthur Asseraf is a University Lecturer in the Faculty of History and a fellow of Pembroke College. He is a historian of modern North Africa, France and the Mediterranean, with particular interests in histories of information, race, and colonialism. Born and raised in Paris, he completed his DPhil in Oxford where he was Examination Fellow at All Souls College. His first book, Electric News in Colonial Algeria, which came out with Oxford University Press in 2019, explored the globalization of information across a deeply divided settler society.

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk