I am a historian of the modern Arab world specialized in decolonization. My work puts Middle East and North African studies into conversation, thereby bridging the gap that too often separates these closely related fields. In 2008, prior to becoming a Maghrebist, I conducted field work in Egypt for my Master's thesis, which analyzed how online activists used the internet to create a public sphere in opposition to the authoritarian Mubarak regime.
My first book, Globalizing Morocco: Transnational Activism and the Post-Colonial State (Stanford University Press, 2019) examines the impact of the Moroccan nationalist movement's worldwide anti-colonial campaign against the French and Spanish protectorates, and how this in turn influenced politics inside the North African kingdom after independence in 1956. It is based on research in twenty-three different archives and draws upon methodologies developed by social network analysis to evaluate informal alliances across borders within a qualitative framework of analysis. At its core, the project deals with the relationship between anti-colonial mobilization at home and abroad and the tensions between networked activism and institutionalized politics. This fascinating episode of Cold War history elucidates the contributions made by non-state Third World actors to the formation of the post-1945 global order.
My second book project analyzes how ordinary North Africans experienced World War II. It is based on field work in all three Maghrib countries as well as Western archives from Berlin to Washington DC. Despite the tremendous suffering caused by the war years – ranging from authoritarian Vichy rule to widespread famines and concentration camps – this pivotal period of modern North African history remains all but absent from regional public memory as well as academic historiography. By drawing on newspapers, oral histories, schoolbooks, private correspondence, fiction literature, movies, popular music, and museum exhibitions, I understand this absence of remembrance as the direct consequence of colonial rule. Beginning with the infamous French massacre in Sétif on VE Day in 1945, the legacy of the war became part of a painful past that many Maghribis sought to overcome by creating an anti-colonial ideology of Third World solidarity outside the confines of European control. Rather than becoming central to the region’s identity, it appeared as a peripheral event fought out between the world’s imperial powers. It was this future-oriented mindset that ultimately marginalized the history of World War II in general, and the Holocaust in specific, across the Maghrib until today.
Just like my research, my training as a scholar has been multilingual and transnational. I hold a BA in Semitic Philology and Political Science (2007) as well as an MA in Middle Eastern Studies (2009), both from Uppsala University in Sweden. I also spent a combined eighteen months studying Arabic at the Alexandria Center for Languages in Egypt. Eventually, I relocated across the Atlantic, shifted my research focus to the Maghrib and obtained a PhD in History from UC Davis in June 2015. During the following year, I was the Sultan Visiting Scholar in Arab Studies at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a Lecturer in the International & Area Studies Program at UC Berkeley. Finally, in August 2016, I joined Christopher Newport University in Virginia as Assistant Professor of History.
If you are curious about anything, please send me an email!
david.stenner (at) cnu.edu | Find me on Academia.edu