I work primarily on the international and global history of the postcolonial world. I received a BA from Yale University in 1999 and a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2011. I joined the history department at UBC in 2009. In the 2011-12 academic year, I was a Chauncey Postdoctoral Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University.
I am particularly interested in the history of decolonization, the postcolonial international system, and South-South connections. My work integrates the experiences and aspirations of the Global South into modern history using a polycentric, post-Western perspective that does not defer to established regional and continental categories.
My first book, Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization, and the Third World Order, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. It has been awarded the American Historical Association's 2017 Jerry Bentley Prize for the most outstanding work in world history, and received an honorable mention for the African Studies Association's 2017 Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the best scholarly work on Africa.
My work has also been published in journals such as The International Journal of Middle East Studies, The International History Review, and Diplomatic History, and in numerous essay collections.
I am currently pursuing two major research projects. “Europe on the Line: Post-imperialism, Post-colonialism, and the End of Socialist Civilization”, deconstructs Europe as a regional category by exploring its contested boundaries in the course of the twentieth century. It highlights the tension between “Europe” as a structure of international order and “Europe” as a defined space. In a sense, it recasts European history from the perspective of those excluded from it (or at best ambiguously included), including Arabs, Turks, Russians, and Serbians, among others, though the project focuses on South-South connections and the ways in which proximate non-Europeans managed the inescapability of European power. “Europe on the Line” reveals how the victory of the West European project in the early 1990s unleashed a destructive combination of neo-liberalism and ethno-religious nationalism that devastated the cosmopolitan left in much of the post-colonial world.
“A World Too Fast for Theories: The Postcolonial Geopolitics of Impatience”, argues that the Third World was a collective political project defined more by its participants’ shared methodologies than a sense of ideological commonality. A constant sense of crisis and impatience impelled anticolonial militants and postcolonial policymakers: feeling beset by population growth, globalization, and relentlessly dialectical currents of history, they consistently prioritized action over theorizing. This project will show how the great abundance of political identities, ideologies, and cultural projects evident across the Southern Hemisphere in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries gave way to surprisingly homogenous, consistent forms and practices of political power in the postcolonial context.
Review for The American Historical Review: "powerful and sobering… one of the most dynamic accounts of the Global South in recent years… Mecca of Revolution will remain indispensable reading for anyone wishing to understand Global South-South relations after colonial liberation."
Review for H/Soz/Kult: "an important intervention in several ongoing debates in international relations and diplomatic history… Innovative and thought-provoking, [Mecca of Revolution] will certainly become a standard in discussions on the global Cold War, decolonization and Third World politics."
Review for Reviews in History: "This is an important book, a substantial contribution to scholarship both in terms of the archival sources which it brings to light and the framework of analysis which it sets up to be applied and tested in other cases. It will have a wide-ranging appeal to scholars and students of decolonization, the Cold War, post- colonial state-building, international relations, and of course, Algerian studies."
Review for The Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya: "Through the Algerian case, Byrne is able to give a historically nuanced account of the Third World movement. He takes the participants of this global movement seriously as geopolitical actors who transformed the world system by bypassing the great powers rather than reducing the movement to a series of empty speeches. He also refuses to romanticize this heady period and shows the many limitations of the movement’s activities as well as its considerable divisions and rivalries."
Review for The International Journal of African Historical Studies: "Professor Byrne’s international archival research is impressive. He not only locates Algeria at multiple diplomatic 'interstices' bridging countries and continents, but also himself—a courageous, ambitious endeavor resulting in a considerable, erudite achievement."
Review for Diplomatic History: "a conceptually-refreshing narrative that refocuses attention on the statist, regional, and global politics of liberation movements and South-South diplomacy in the mid-twentieth century… Byrne offers a corrective to the dominant narrative of the Cold War."
"Making the Pilgrimage to the 'Mecca of Revolution': A Conversation with Jeffrey James Byrne on Algerian Internationalism and the Third World", an interview for the Toynbee Prize Foundation
"Algérie: La Mecque de la Révolution: Questions à Jeffrey Byrne, Assistant Professor à l’University of British Columbia", an interview for Libération newspaper of Paris
Please also consult ubc.academia.edu/JeffreyByrne/ for a more up-to-date comprehensive publication history and access to some of my publications.Alternatively, you may also download my curriculum vitae.
“Unity in Desire: Algeria’s Globalist Third Worldism”, The Transnational Revolution: Tricontinentalism at Fifty, University of Texas (Austin), April 2016“We non-whites must hold together: Third Worldism in the African Cold War”, African Studies Association annual meeting, San Diego, November 2015“Mecca of Revolution: Algeria and the Fate of the Third World”, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, January 2015“Beyond continents, colours, and the Cold War: Yugoslavia, Algeria and the struggle for non-alignment, 1961-73”, The Role of Neutrals and Non-Aligned in the Cold War, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, March 2014“Each of us uses the weapons available to us: The Algerian Revolution, the Oil Shock, and the Apex of Third Worldism”, Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans LA, October 2013“Algerian Economic Strategy and the Global Oil Crisis of 1973”, Pivotal Year: The 1973 Oil Shock and its Global Significance, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, September 2013“1962: L'indépendance n'est qu'une étape”, 1962, عالم/un monde/a world, International Colloquim at the Centre de Recherche en Anthropologie Sociale et Curturelle (CRASC), Oran, Algeria, October 2012“A World Too Fast For Theories: Algeria’s Pyrrhic Pursuit of Non-Alignment, State Capitalism, and the Post-Cold War Economic Order”, Non-aligned Movement (NAM) in the Cold War: A True Alternative?, International Conference, Belgrade, Serbia, May 2012“Le FLN et le GPRA face à De Gaulle (1961-1965): La négociation indéfinie”, Colloque De Gaulle et l’Algérie, Hôtel des Invalides, Paris, France, March 2012“Weapons of the Weak: Aggressive Non-Alignment and the Third World's Fear of Detente”, International Workshop on the History of Nonalignment, Princeton University, August 2011.“International Society and its Discontents: Challenging the Postcolonial Order”, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, June 2011“Algeria at the Crossroads of Decolonisation and the Cold War”, University of Padua, Italy, June 2011
This course examines the history of revolutionary movements and Islamic revolutions and insurgencies in the “Third World” (such as Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Palestine, Vietnam). Topics include the causes of revolution, revolutionary strategy, political violence, anti-colonial nationalism, the diplomacy of insurgencies, the influence of Marxism in the developing world, and Islamic revolutions and insurgencies. This course is not eligible for Credit/D/Fail grading.
International relations in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire, with special attention to the conflicts between Jews of Palestine/Israel and their Arab neighbours.
U.S. foreign policy and international history from the end of World War II to the present. Examines political, economic, and cultural relationships between the United States and other peoples, organizations, and states worldwide.
B.A. Yale University 1999
Ph.D. London School of Economics and Political Science, 2011
Assistant Professor, Department of History, UBC, 2009 to date
Brady-Johnson Postdoctoral Associate, International Security Studies at Yale University, 2011-2012