Charles W. A. Prior

Reader in History

01482 466328 | [email protected]

I grew up on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee lands near Kingston, Ontario Canada, and taught at Queen’s University (Canada), the University of Toronto, and the University of Cambridge, where I held a postdoctoral fellowship from 2004 to 2006. I am a life member of Wolfson College, Cambridge and held visiting appointments in Canada, the United States and in the UK. My work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom.

I have published two books (Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press), a range of journal articles, and edited two collections of essays that deal with topics in early modern political thought. In 2015, during a sabbatical term at Dartmouth College, I shifted my focus to treaties as instances of cross-cultural negotiations about sovereignty. That came together in a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2017-18), which allowed me to complete Settlers in Indian Country: Sovereignty and Indigenous Power in Early America (Cambridge University Press, 2020). It foregrounds Indigenous conceptions of sovereignty and power to refine the place of settler colonialism in American colonial and early republican history. This became the core of a second book, Treaty Ground: Diplomacy and the Politics of Sovereignty in the American Northeast. Placing the Covenant Chain at its centre, the book argues that treaties defined a rules-based system of interaction in the international locales of Northeastern North America.

I have been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2024-27) for work on a new project, ‘Treatied States of America: Interior Diplomacy and the Contest for (Native) American Resources’. 

Recent publications

Back to Ka-ou-enesegoan‘, Queen’s Quarterly 130 n. 3 (Fall, 2023).

Settlers in Indian Country: Sovereignty and Indigenous Power in Early America, Cambridge Elements in Comparative Political Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2020). I gave an overview of the book in an interview on the New Diplomatic History Podcast.

‘Indian Centres, Colonial Peripheries: Locating the International in Early America’, in Claiming Land, Claiming Water: Borders and the People Who Crossed Them in the Early Modern Atlantic, ed. Rachel Herrmann & Jessica Roney (9500 words). Forthcoming.

‘Beyond Settler Colonialism: State Sovereignty in Early America’. Journal of Early American History 9 n. 2&3 (2019), 93-117.

‘Settlers Among Empires: Conquest and the American Revolution’, in Remembering Early Modern Revolutions: England, North America, France and Haiti, ed. Edward Vallance (Routledge, 2018), 79-93.

Recent talks

Britons in Iroquoia’, Global Georgians: Transnational Interactions with the British Monarchy, King’s College, London, 8 June 2021. Plenary roundtable with David Armitage (Harvard), Priya Atwal (KCL), Henrietta Harrison (Oxford).

Thinking Around Treaties’, Omohundro Institute, College of William and Mary, Virginia 27 July – 31 August 2021 (online)

Indian Centers, Colonial Peripheries’, Lines on a Map: Crafting and Contesting Borders in the Early Modern Atlantic and Beyond, British Library, London, 13-14 December 2019.

Dr Charles Prior