Frederick Cooper is a historian interested in colonization, decolonization, empire, and citizenship.
Cooper’s first books focused on slavery and labor in 19th- and 20th- century East Africa. In studying interaction and conflict in specific locations, he became increasingly interested in the wider context of colonization and decolonization. This new direction led to a book on labor and decolonization in French and British Africa as well as collaboration with anthropologist Ann Stoler that resulted in an edited book, Tensions of Empire (1997). Cooper's interest in theory pushed him to write articles critical of some of the key concepts used in the social sciences–identity, modernity, globalization, development, and the nation-state. Meanwhile, his skepticism about the national focus of the social sciences led him, along with Jane Burbank, to develop courses on the most durable of all political forms – empire – an endeavor that resulted in the book Empires in World History (2010). His own research turned toward the study of citizenship, first in the case of France and French Africa during the crisis in colonial rule after World War II, then in relation to world history.
American Historical Association Book Prize in African History and European History, 2014
World History Association Book prize, 2011
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Fellow, 2010-11
Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1990-91, 1995-96, 2002-03
Guggenheim Fellowship, 1994-96
Cooper, F. (2018). Citizenship, inequality, and difference: Historical perspectives. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cooper, F. (2014). Citizenship between empire and nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cooper, F. (2014). Africa in the world: Capitalism, empire, nation-state. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Cooper, F. & Burbank, J. (2010). Empires in world history: Power and the politics of difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cooper, F. (2005). Colonialism in question: Theory, knowledge, history. Berkeley: University of California Press.