Aidan Forth

Assistant Professor, History

PhD (Stanford)

7-352K, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB


Aidan Forth’s teaching and research explore European empires as venues of violence and warfare; humanitarian intervention; and the rich cross-fertilization of cultures, identities and ideas that have shaped the modern world. His prize-winning first book Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain’s Empire of Camps, 1876-1903 reveals a global but hitherto unexplored network of refugee and concentration camps established by Britain in the late nineteenth century. Based on archival research on four different continents, Barbed-Wire Imperialism pioneered an interdisciplinary, comparative and transnational approach to trace a genealogy of the camp as an institution deeply embedded in the politics and culture of the Euro-American world.

As barbed-wire camps proliferate in our own era, from the US-Mexican border to the global south, Dr. Forth is now writing a new classroom-oriented volume titled Camps: Mass Confinement in the Modern World for the University of Toronto Press. He is also conducting preliminary research for a new monograph titled The Passage East, which examines the technologies and ideologies of migration and cross-cultural interaction as they developed globally in the long nineteenth century.

Whether in the classroom, the archives or at conferences and public talks, Dr. Forth prizes the contributions of students to his evolving interests: he hopes to instill in them his own passion for history, and he fully expects that his classroom interactions at MacEwan will enrich his own understanding of the past.

Prior to coming to MacEwan, Dr. Forth was a teaching fellow at Stanford University and an Associate Professor at Loyola University, Chicago.

Available to supervise senior students' independent study.

British history, imperialism, colonialism, empire, violence, warfare, humanitarianism, refugees and migrants, India, South Africa, globalization, culture

Teaching and Research Interests

Recent or Upcoming Courses:

  • HIST 100: Introduction to History
  • HIST 210: Modern Europe, 1789-present
  • HIST 301: Global History of Concentration Camps
  • HIST 338: Britain as a World Power
  • HIST 442: Empire and Violence 

Current Research Projects:

Selected Publications / Presentations / Conference Papers

Forth, Aidan. Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain's Empire of Camps, 1876-1903 (University of California Press, 2017).

Forth, Aidan. "Britain’s Archipelago of Camps: Labor and Detention in a Liberal Empire, 1871-1903.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 16, no.3 (Summer 2015): 651-680. Republished in https://upittpress.org/books/9780822944645/

Forth, Aidan. “A Shared Malady: Concentration Camps in the British, Spanish, American and German Empires” (with Jonas Kreienbaum). Journal of Modern European History, 14, no. 2 (Spring 2016): 245- 67.

Forth, Aidan. "The Birth of the Concentration Camp? British Imperialism and the Origins of Modern Detention.” Perspectives on Europe, 43, no. 2 (Fall 2013): 54-58.

Awards / Grants / Fellowships

  • Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association (2019)
  • Stansky Book Prize, North American Conference on British Studies (2018)
  • Sujack Master Researcher Award, Loyola University (2018)
  • USAC Visiting Professor, Charles University, Prague (2017 and 2019)
  • James B. Weter Memorial Dissertation Fellowship, Stanford University (2012)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center (2011-12)
  • Social Sciences Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2010-2011)
  • London Goodenough Association of Canada Fellowship, Goodenough College, London (2009-2010)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, Council for European Studies at Columbia University (2009)
  • Summer Institute for Archival Research, Elliot School of International Affairs at the George Washington University (2009)
  • Graduate Research Opportunities Grant for Research on Modern British History and Culture (GRO-MBHC), Stanford University (2008)
  • Anglo-California Foundation Scholarship (2008)
  • Canadian Graduate Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (2006-10)

Professional Associations / Memberships

  • American Historical Association
  • Canadian Historical Association
  • North American Conference on British Studies Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies
  • Midwestern Conference on British Studies
  • World History Association
  • Midwest Victorian Studies Association

Boards / Committees

  • Social Science Research Council IDRF Fellowship Committee
  • NACBS Mentorship Program
  • Walter D. Love Prize Committee
  • Local Arrangements Committee, MWCBS, Chicago, IL, 2019
  • Peer reviewer for Journal of British Studies, Journal of Comparative History and others
  • Newberry Library Fellowship Committee

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