Professor Melanie Torrent

Contact details

Professor Melanie Torrent
Position/Fellowship type:
Senior Research Fellow
Fellowship term:
08-Feb-2013 to 31-Jan-2025
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Home institution:
Université de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV)
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Contemporary History, Cultural memory, International Relations, Political Institutions, Socialism, Communism, Anarchism
Africa, United Kingdom
Summary of research interests and expertise:

 My research focuses on British foreign policy and diplomacy since 1945 and on the history of the contemporary Commonwealth of Nations, with a particular interest in Franco-British relations in Africa and links between the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. My work also investigates competing definitions and practices of democracy, development aid and the promotion of South-South exchanges in international relations. More recently, I have been working on the international relations of the British Labour Party and non-governmental groups in Britain, the evolution of policy-making in government departments and the influence of civil society groups on the redefinition of British identity and British power in the long end of empire.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
02-Jun-2021 Algerian independence and the end of empires: the liberation of Africa and the British Left


05-Oct-2020 L’exception archivistique à l’épreuve des sources : transitions diplomatiques et pratiques archivistiques dans les fins d’empire français et britannique en Afrique


Revue française de civilisation britannique (special issue on exceptionalism), vol. 25, n°4, 2020

10-Aug-2020 Globalizing Suez: Commonwealth diplomacy and the war of Algerian independence (1955-1957)


in Saul Dubow and Richard Drayton (ed), The Commonwealth Effect, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan (Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series), 2020

02-Mar-2020 Le Brexit au prisme du Commonwealth : vers une perte d’influence britannique ?

Recherches internationales, n°117, janvier-mars 2020

22-Mar-2019 Ecrire l'histoire du Commonwealth des Nations: relations internationales et dialogues disciplinaires


10-Feb-2019 Les circulations militantes entre Paris et Londres: antiracisme et anti-apartheid »


Hommes et Migrations, n°1325

22-Apr-2018 Cameroon : a political challenge for the Commonwealth

01-Sep-2017 Commonwealth(s) projetés, comparés, transformés : conservatismes et conservateurs à l’heure des indépendances africaines


in Clarisse Berthezène, Jean-Christian Vinel (ed), Conservatismes en mouvement. Conservateurs et conservatismes au XXème siècle, une approche transnationale, Paris, Editions de l’EHESS, 2016.

01-May-2017 ‘Chasse gardée au Cameroun?’ Le Secrétariat général des Affaires africaines et malgaches et la gestion des sphères d’influence française et britannique en Afrique de l’Ouest


in Olivier Forcade, Jean-Pierre Bat (ed), Jacques Foccart : la politique, l’Afrique et le monde, Paris, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne

01-May-2017 Le Commonwealth et l’influence britannique dans le monde : risques et défis d’un Brexit

Journal articles

 Outre Terre, Revue française de géopolitique

01-Sep-2016 ‘But always as friends’ : British cultural diplomacy, decolonisation and the Cold War in West Africa (1957-1964)


in Laurent Dornel, Michael Parsons (ed), Fins d’empire, Pau, Presses de l’Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, 2016, 93-118.

10-Nov-2015 A ‘New’ Commonwealth for Britain? Negotiating Ghana’s Pan-African and Asian Connections at the End of Empire (1951-1958)

Journal articles

  The International History Review, published online 10 November 2015 [forthcoming in print].

01-Sep-2015 Cameroon’s Membership of the Commonwealth: Why it Matters


 Border Crossing / Diplomat Magazine, 1: 8, septembre 2015, 14-16.

01-Aug-2015 The Commonwealth and the European Union: norms, partnerships, circulations

Edited Book

 Special Issue of The Round Table, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 104 : 4, 2015. Edited with Virginie Roiron.

01-Dec-2013 “Whitehall, the French Community and the Year of Africa: Negotiating post-independence diplomacy in West Africa”


 Tony Chafer and Alex Keese (eds.), Francophone Africa at Fifty, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2013, 155-170.

01-Nov-2013 “Les deuils de l’indépendance: le Cameroun face à sa réunification”


 in Odile Goerg, Jean- Luc Martineau, Didier Nativel (eds.), Les indépendances en Afrique. L’évènement et ses mémoires 1957/60-2010, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013, 327-343.

01-Oct-2013 “La Sierra Leone dans les indépendances africaines: stratégies politiques et enjeux identitaires (1956-1961)” in Michel Prum (ed.), Comparer les diversités, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2013, 131-150.


 in Michel Prum (ed.), Comparer les diversités, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2013, 131-150.

01-Jun-2013 La politique étrangère britannique en Afrique depuis 1957: acteurs, principes, pratiques

Edited Book

 Special issue of the Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique / French Journal of British Studies

01-Feb-2013 Deceptive ends of empire? British policy-makers and the assessment of the French approach to decolonisation in sub-Saharan Africa (1956-1965)


 Cercles, 28, 2013

01-Dec-2012 British Decolonisation: the Politics of Power, Liberation and Influence


 Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2012

01-Mar-2012 Diplomacy and Nation-building in Africa: Franco-British Relations and Cameroon at the End of Empire


 London, I.B. Tauris, 2012

01-Jan-2011 L'Empire britannique en héritage: esclavage, abolition, discrimination et commémoration de l'Amérique du Nord à L'Australie

Edited Book

Le Commonwealth des Nations en mutation: décolonisations, globalisation, gouvernance

Edited Book

 Co-edited with Virginie Roiron, Special Issue of the Cahiers Charles V, Université Paris Diderot, Paris, 2013

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Reinventions of Britain at the end of empires: national identities, transnational solidarities and international practices during the Algerian War

This project examines how the war of Algerian independence, which intersected with liberation wars in other colonial empires, including Britain’s, challenged notions of British power and British practices of transnational solidarities (radical and conservative), whilst contributing to the globalisation of London as a diplomatic hub. From British political writing and publishing to the imprint of colonial wars on urban sites and cultures, research activities will reassess the influence of the (North) African, Arab and Muslim worlds, producing new maps (mental and digital) of the making of post-colonial Britain.

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 01-Oct-2020
Transchannel projects in Anglo-European dynamics: mediating and territorialising cultural (para-) diplomacies and policies

Elias Msaddek, co-funded Phd with the Région Hauts de France

From: 01-Oct-2019
Anglo-Moroccan relations since 2010: redefining and redeploying British influence south of the Mediterranean ive sud de la Méditerranée

Amal El Founti (PhD started 2019)

Past PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 01-Oct-2017
Until: 27-Nov-2020
The British Council in Burma after independence: linguistic policy and cultural diplomacy

Lauriane Simony, co-supervised with Prof. Pauline Schnapper (Sorbonne-Nouvelle)

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
21-Nov-2019 Socialist networks and the remaking of European international policy after 1945: power, solidarity and normative regimes in transnational perspective

Two-day conference at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, organized jointly with Andrew Williams (University of St Andrews), with the support of Université Picardie Jules Verne and the Institut universitaire de France

14-Nov-2019 The African Commonwealth: perceptions, realities and limits

Two-day conference organized jointly by Université Picardie Jules Verne and IEP/Université de Strasbourg

14-Sep-2019 The UK Committee for Algerian Refugees and the politics of transnational peace

Paper presented at the conference "NGOs in Africa in the 1960s" at the Institute of Historical Research

13-Jun-2019 Journals as bridge-builders?

Panel co-organised with Janet Remmington (York / Taylor and Francis) at the European Conference on African Studies in Edinburgh

08-Jun-2019 L’exception à l’épreuve des sources : pratiques archivistiques dans les fins d’empires et relations franco-britanniques

07-Jun-2019 Interdisciplinary perspectives on "Anglophone studies"

16-Mar-2019 Le Brexit vu par le Commonwealth des Nations: vers une perte d'influence britannique?

21-Jun-2018 Cameroon and the decolonization of diplomacy: African perspectives on international relations

07-Feb-2018 Building a safer world? The Commonwealth approach in comparative perspective

31-Dec-2015 A Commonwealth Approach to Development? Theory, Practice and Outcomes

 One-day workshop, organized with SAGE (UMR 7363), Université Paris Diderot

09-Jul-2015 “Acting on the margins: professional associations and the construction of alternative politics in Africa after empires”

 Panel 33, ECAS 6 (2015), Paris, France; organized with Richard Bourne, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

10-May-2015 L'Atelier du pouvoir, France Culture

 Speaker on royals visits, during the programme on presidential and royal visits.

15-Feb-2013 Des partages coloniaux aux frontières culturelles: espace politique et stratégies identitaires au Cameroun méridional (1954-1961)

 One-day conference, "Cultures coloniales et postcoloniales et la décolonisation", Université de Tours

25-Jan-2013 Negocier l'appartenance au Commonwealth en Afrique de l'Ouest dans les années 1950 et 1960

 One-day conference, "Penser l'anti-impérialisme, militer pour la décolonisation", Université de Lille

17-Jan-2013 The Commonwealth in the World: Resistance, Governance and Change

 Mark Weston, The Ringtone and the Drum: West Africa on the Edge, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

11-Jan-2013 Empire overcome? British decolonisation and the contest for new world orders

 One-day conference held at Paris Diderot

15-Dec-2012 Deceptive ends of empire? British policy-makers and the assessment of the French approach to decolonisation in sub-Saharan Africa (1956-1965)

 Université de Strasbourg, One-day conference on the end of the British empire

19-Oct-2012 The Commonwealth in the World: Resistance, Governance and Change

 Leslie James (LSE), on George Padmore, and Philip Murphy (ICWS) on intelligence and decolonisation, held at Université Paris Diderot

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