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David Todd joined the department as a lecturer in world history in 2010. He read history at the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and received a Diplôme from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. He was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2005 and was subsequently a research fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, a Mellon post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge, and a visiting fellow at Harvard University. In 2012, he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme prize.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • My research interests lie in the history of France and its empires since 1750. In my book Free Trade and its Enemies in France, 1814-1851(2015), a revised version of L’identité économique de la France, 1814-1851 (2008), I examined the emergence of a new economic nationalism after the Revolution in response to the intensification of international trade in the nineteenth century. The book highlights the role of Britain as an economic other and of aspirations to empire in the making of a modern protectionist ideology. My current work reappraises the significance of French informal imperialism – the global projection of French imperial power beyond territories under French rule – between 1815 and 1890, with a focus on its impact on the Ottoman world. My forthcoming book A Velvet Empire: French Imperial Power and Economic Life in the Nineteenth Century will pay special attention to the combination of cultural, legal and economic instruments that underpinned the expansion of the French informal empire. I am also interested in how French overseas expansion, formal and informal, contributed to shaping modern France since 1750.

     David Todd would particularly welcome applications from students who wish to work on:

    • The political and economic history of French overseas expansion
    • The impact of the world on French politics and society
    • Anglo-French exchanges and collaboration
    • Political and economic thought about empire

For more details, please see his full research profile.


Dr Todd teaches a range of modules in global economic history, the comparative history of empires and French imperialism.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Dr David Todd is a Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the Rothschild Archive, London, and an associate research fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, Harvard and Cambridge.