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Professor James Renton

Professor of History

History, Geography & Social Sciences

Professor James Renton

Department: History, Geography & Social Sciences

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I am an historian of antisemitism and Islamophobia, empire, and global politics. I am especially interested in the history of ideas, power, and conflict that shape our global moment of the War on Terror. My current work focuses on racism and the global surveillance order, and the European idea of the Middle East, from the 16th to the 21st centuries. I am President of the British and Irish Association for Jewish Studies, and Co-Director of the International Centre on Racism at Edge Hill.

I have a particular interest in bridging the gap between academic research and wider society, including civil society organisations, policymakers, and the general public. In that connection, I am the Academic Advisor at MONITOR Global Intelligence on Racism, the world’s first online magazine dedicated to bringing research insights to these communities, which is based at the European University Institute.

For my PhD, I had the great fortune to study under Michael Berkowitz at University College London, in the magnificent Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, chaired by the late Professor John Klier and Professor Ada Rapoport Albert . I spent the final year of my doctoral studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later returned to UCL as a Hanadiv postdoctoral fellow before I moved to Edge Hill in 2007.

My first book, The Zionist Masquerade: The Birth of the Anglo-Zionist Alliance, 1914-1918 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), was a new history of the Balfour Declaration. Placing the Declaration within the wider story of the global politics of race and nationalism in the Great War, the book put forward a new interpretation of its origins, purpose and significance.

With Ben Gidley, I am the co-editor of Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story? (Palgrave Macmillan, pbk, 2017), which is the first book to explore the relationship between the two racisms from the Crusades until Charlie Hebdo. I am also the editor of Islamophobia and Surveillance: Genealogies of a Global Order (Routledge, 2019), and co-editor, with Anya Topolski, of ‘Jean Bodin and the Sovereignty of Exclusion’ in Political Theology.

I am currently writing a monograph on the European idea of the Middle East, for which I was awarded an Early Career Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence (2016-2017).

Outside of the academic world, I have featured in international press including Ha’aretztaz. die tageszeitung, Deutsche Welle, and Jüdische Allgemeine. On television and radio, I have been in programmes on BBC Radio 4, Al Jazeera International, the Yesterday Channel and Deutchlandfunk Kultur.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

I welcome enquiries from prospective research students, particularly those interested in Islamophobia or antisemitism. Each year, Edge Hill awards a limited number of PhD/Graduate Teaching Assistant studentships.