Isabelle SURUN


History, Université Lille 3 Charles de Gaule, France

Isabelle SURUN

d'octobre 2014 à juin 2015


Born in 1965, former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS, Paris) and agrégé history teacher, Isabelle SURUN worked for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Maps and plan department), doing documentary research. She was as well an history and geography teacher in a secondary education school before defending in 2003 the doctoral thesis she had prepared at the Alexandre Koyré Centre (collaboration between CNRS/EHESS and Museum of Natural History).

Her thesis, entitled Géographies de l’exploration. La carte, le terrain et le texte (Afrique occidentale, 1780-1880), (Geographies of exploration. The map, the terrain and the text - Western Africa, 1780-1880) reexamines the history of the exploration of Africa using the methods of social and cultural history of sciences.

In 2012, Isabelle SURUN obtained a post-doctoral degree (“HDR”, an accreditation to supervise research) at Sciences Po Paris. Her thesis Senegal and dependancies.The territory of imperial transition 1855-1895 focuses on the construction of the colonial territory in the French western Africa.

First Senior lecturer and then Professor in non-European history at the University of Lille 3, she has taught the history of Africa in different universities, such as University Paris 1, University Lille 3 and Sciences Po Paris. She is the publishing director of the journal Outre-Mers. Revue d’histoire (“Overseas. History journal) published by the French Society of History of the overseas department and territories.

Search project

"Sovereignty and territory in interaction: a diplomacy of Imperial contact in West Africa (end 18th-beginning 20th century)"

The main objective of the research carried by Isabelle SURUN while at IAS-Nantes consists in rethinking the euro-centered “great story” of colonial appropriations and of the construction of territories within empires, usually seen as a key arker of the transition from “old” to “new” empires. The project studies a corpus of treaties signed between representatives of the French colonial authority in Senegal and different States or societies in Western Africa. These treaties are not only expressing a certain balance of power. They are as well the symptom of an interaction that takes place at a legal level, but that says much about the contact between different ideas of what are sovereignty and territory, which are negociated in the treaty.

Through the study of these treaties, the aim is to highlight the protocols of interactions in the negotiation which characterize a diplomacy of Imperial contact.