James Livesey

+44 (0) 1382 384460
Professor of Global History, Dean of School of Humanities



Global intellectual history is a developing field. My work explores how specific, local intellectual traditions and communities have negotiated globality. Ireland offers a particularly interesting vantage point from which to address problems of global transformation since the eighteenth century.

I am also the Director of the Scottish Centre for Global History: http://globalhistory.org.uk/

Watch Prof Jim Livesey's presentation at the University of Dundee Discovery Days 2014.


I am the Director of the Scottish Centre for Global History: http://globalhistory.org.uk/

I work on the long eighteenth century in France and in the Atlantic World. New forms of co-ordination for society, politics and the economy proliferated in the eighteenth century. These included new kinds of institutions, clubs, companies and societies, as well as new ideas about collective action. My research tries to understand why this was such a creative moment. Why did democracy revive as an ideal in the late eighteenth century after a gap of almost two thousand years? What were the moral, cultural and institutional foundations for modern economic life? These are huge, and hugely important, questions but within this capacious research agenda I have pursued three distinct fields of research.

My two monographs, (Making Democracy in the French Revolution, (Harvard UP, 2001) and Civil Society and Empire: Ireland and Scotland in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World, (Yale UP, 2009), explore how new concepts to orientate and explain collective action emerged from the interaction between politics, society and intellectual debate in the period. The ideas of democracy and civil society retain their importance for contemporary political life. My new work explores the relationship between these process of global contextual change and local contexts. I have monographs on the modernisation of a French province, the Languedoc, and the intellectual history of Ireland in preparation. Both of these projects try to understand how local, historic communities engaged with and participated in global history. I continue to work on the French Revolution and my next project will revisit the problem of the relationship of the Revolution to capitalism.

AHRC funded studentships are available in my research area - more details

In July 2013 I led a workshop on finance, communication and co-ordination in the eighteenth century at the University of Dundee. A collective research project on the global history of communication and finance is developing from that workshop. I previously held posts at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Sussex and was Visiting Professor at Harvard 2007-2008.

Current project: Reason and Material Culture in the Languedoc

This project analyses the material practices, around objects such as agricultural machinery, botanical samples and money that established provincial cultures of reason in the eighteenth-century Mediterranean and Atlantic. This project comes out of a long-held interest and commitment to the history of science and the environment.



The Edge of the World: Irish Intellectual History 1500-2000 (monograph in preparation)

The Global Province: Money, Ideas and Things in the Pays d’Oc, 1690-1850, (research monograph in preparation)

Empire and Civil Society: Ireland and Scotland in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World, (New Haven Conn., 2009) Yale UP. Honorable Mention James S Donnelly Sr. Prize, American Conference for Irish Studies

Making Democracy in the French Revolution, (Cambridge Mass, 2001), Harvard UP.

“The Fall of the Catholic Cosmopolitan: Charles O’Conor and the Catholic Debate on the Act of Union”, Britain and the World, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2013), 152-170

"The Political Culture of the Directory" in, A Companion to the French Revolution, (Oxford, 2013) Peter McPhee ed., 328-432.

"Free Trade and Empire in the Anglo-Irish Commercial Propositions of 1785" Journal of British Studies, Vol. 52 (January, 2013) 1-25.

"A Nation of Cosmopolitan Improvers: The Dublin Society 1731-1798", in Koen Stapelbroek and Jani Marjanen eds. Political Economy, Patriotism and the Rise of Economic and Patriotic Societies in Europe, 1700-1850, (Palgrave, 2012)

"Par un verre obscurément: République et rivalité fraternelle", Républiques en miroir: Le Directoire devant la Révolution atlantique. Modélisations, confrontations, interréciprocité des républiques naissantes, (Paris, 2009), Pierre Serna ed.

"London by the Light of Montpellier: Scientific Networks between Northern Europe, Britain and the Languedoc 1680-1789", Cultural Transfers: France and Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century, SVEC, 04 (April 2010).

"Les réseaux de crédit en Languedoc au XVIIIe siècle et les origines sociales de la Révolution", Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française, No 359 (Janvier-Mars 2010), 9-28

"The Limits of Terror: The French Revolution, Rights and Democratic Transition", Thesis 11, No 97, (May 2009), 63-79

"Intellectual History and the History of Science", Palgrave Advances in Intellectual History, (London, 2006), Richard Whatmore and Brian Young (eds.) "A Revolutionary Career? François de Neufchâteau does well by doing good 1774-1799." French History, Vol 18, No 2 (2004), 173-195

"The Intellectual Origins of the Royal Dublin Society 1689-1731" Historical Journal, Vol 47, No 3 (2004) 615-640.

"Botany and Provincial Enlightenment in Montpellier: Antoine Banal père et fils, 1750-1800", History of Science (2005) 57-76.

"Material Culture, Economic Institutions and Peasant Revolution in Languedoc, 1770-1830", Past and Present, No 182, (June, 2004), 143-173

"Improving justice: communities of norms in the Great Transformation", in Frank Trentmann and Mark Bevir (eds), Beyond Markets: New Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Critiques of the Market c1800-2000, (Cambridge, 2003) CUP, 25-45.

"Acts of Union and Disunion: The Act of Union in Atlantic and European Context", in, Daire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (eds.), Acts of Union: The Causes, Contexts and Consequences of the Act of Union, (Dublin, 2001), 95-106.

"E. Clavière, J.-P. Brissot et les fondations intellectuelles de la politique des Girondins" with Richard Whatmore, Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française, No. 3, (October 2000), pp, 1-26.