Personen im Historischen Institut: Prof. Dr. Jan C. Jansen

Jan C. Jansen is Assistant Professor of Global History of Mobility (18th–20th centuries). Prior to joining the University of Duisburg-Essen, he was a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, and a lecturer and research fellow at the University of Konstanz. In the past years, Jan also held visiting scholar positions at the George Washington University, Georgetown University, the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC) in Tunis, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

Jan’s main research interests concern the comparative history of the European colonial empires and decolonization with a particular focus on North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic World. He is the author of Erobern und Erinnern: Symbolpolitik, öffentlicher Raum und französischer Kolonialismus in Algerien 1830–1950 (2013) and co-author, with Jürgen Osterhammel, of Kolonialismus: Geschichte, Formen, Folgen (2012) and of Decolonization: A short history (co-authored with Jürgen Osterhammel, Princeton University Press, 2017). His current research concerns the history of refugee movements during the age of revolutions (1780s–1820s) and their broader impact on the transformation of the Atlantic world. Jan is Principal Investigator of the project “Atlantic Exiles,” funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). His two book projects are about the transformations of concepts and legal notions of alienness and subjecthood during the revolutionary era and about the emergence of exile as a trans-imperial political space.

For a full CV, see this PDF.

Main Areas of Interest

  • European, North African, and Atlantic History
  • Colonialism and Decolonization (18th – 20th centuries)
  • Migration and Refugee History
  • Memory Studies
  • History of Sociability in Global Perspective


Select publications:

"Aliens in a Revolutionary World: Refugees, Migration Control and Subjecthood in the British Atlantic, 1790s–1820s," Past & Present 255 (2022), advanced open access.

(with Simone Lässig). Refugee Crises, 1945–2000: Political and Societal Responses in International Comparison
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Brothers in Exile: Masonic Lodges and the Refugees of the Haitian Revolution, 1790s–1820,”
Atlantic Studies: Global Currents 16, no. 3 (2019): 341-363.

Flucht und Exil im Zeitalter der Revolutionen (1770er–1820er Jahre): Perspektiven einer atlantischen Flüchtlingsgeschichte,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 44, no. 4 (2018): 495–525.

Becoming Imperial Citizens: Jews and Freemasonry in the British Caribbean (early 19th Century),”
in The Sephardic Atlantic, edited by Sina Rauschenbach and Jonathan Schorsch
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 215-244.

(with Jürgen Osterhammel) Decolonization: A Short History.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017 [Paperback, 2019]. [German ed. 2013; Chinese ed. 2019]

Memory Lobbying and the Shaping of ‘Colonial Memories’ in France since the 1990s: The Local, the National, and the International," in Vertriebene and Pieds-Noirs in Postwar Germany and France: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Manuel Borutta and Jan C. Jansen (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016), 252-271.

Creating National Heroes: Colonial Rule, Anticolonial Politics, and Conflicting Memories of Emir 'Abd al-Qadir in Algeria, 1900s-1960s,” History & Memory 28, no. 2 (2016): 3-46.

Une autre « Union Sacrée » ? Commémorer la Grande Guerre dans l'Algérie colonisée (1918-1939),”
Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine 61, no. 2 (2014): 32-60.

Erobern und Erinnern: Symbolpolitik, öffentlicher Raum und französischer Kolonialismus in Algerien, 1830-1950
(Munich: Oldenbourg, 2013).

(with Jürgen Osterhammel) Kolonialismus: Geschichte, Formen, Folgen,
7th ed. (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2012). [8th ed. 2017] [Spanish ed. 2019]

 “Celebrating the “Nation” in a Colonial Context: “Bastille Day” and the Contested Public Space in Algeria, 1880-1939,” The Journal of Modern History 85, no. 1 (2013): 36-68. (pdf)

For a full list of publications, see pdf.

For more on my publications, visit my Academia website.

Research Projects

Atlantic Exiles: Refugees and Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1780s–1820s

Funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC), 2020-2025

“Atlantic Exiles” explores comparatively the large-scale refugee movements set off by the revolutions in North and South America, France, and Haiti. The revolutionary era has been often considered a pivotal moment in the rise of Western political modernity and the emergence of new notions of sovereignty, citizenship, and political participation. As the project will show, it was also intertwined with the emergence of political refugees as a mass phenomenon. The great political upheavals and the violent conflicts that accompanied them put well over a quarter million people on the move. Based on case studies from the Caribbean and the American continent, the project sets out to show that political migrants and refugee movements were at the very core of at least four major transformations that the Atlantic world underwent during these decades. It examines, first, the role they played in the reshaping of citizenship and subjecthood regimes; second, their impact on changing practices of welfare and early forms of humanitarianism; third, the ways they navigated the porous and shifting boundaries between freedom and slavery; and fourth, how they contributed to making exile a transnational field of politics. While there is growing consensus that revolutionary ideas and actors in the Atlantic basin can no longer be studied in isolation, those who opposed and fled these revolutions have received strikingly little attention thus far. The project recasts the Caribbean as one of the world’s major receiving and transit region for refugees during this period, and it provides the first systematic combination of Atlantic history with the nascent research field of refugee history. In addition, it sets the findings from the Atlantic world into the context of the global history context of involuntary migrations. The project includes four sub-projects carried out by the PI and three research associates.

For more information about the project, the team and its output, visit the project website.


New Publication (November 24, 2021)

Out in open access: Jan C. Jansen, “Aliens in a Revolutionary World: Refugees, Migration Control and Subjecthood in the British Atlantic, 1790s-1820s,” Past & Present 255 (2022): advanced open access

New Publication (November 2, 2021)

Kolonialismus Jj
Jürgen Osterhammel and Jan C. Jansen, Kolonialismus: Geschichte, Formen, Folgen, 9th, rev. ed. (München: C.H. Beck, 2021). Learn more

New Publication (May 22, 2021)

Cosmopolitanism 1
Valeska Huber, Jan C. Jansen, and Martin Rempe (eds.), “Cosmopolitanism in the Nineteenth Century,” Dossier, Humanity 12, no. 1 (2021).

Learn more

Introduction “Dealing with Difference: Cosmopolitanism in the Nineteenth Century World of Empires” by Valeska Huber and Jan C. Jansen available open access here

New Publication:

Feb 19, 2021


Jessica L. Harland-Jacobs, Jan C. Jansen, and Elizabeth Mancke (eds.), The Fraternal Atlantic, 1770-1930: Race, Revolution, and Transnationalism in the Worlds of Freemasonry (London: Routledge, 2021).

Learn more