IFAN Archives, Dakar

Transnational and Imperial Histories of Education and Science

Europe-Africa, 19th-20th centuries


I have been researching the history of Europe and colonial Africa in a transnational and trans-imperial perspective, with a focus on education, childhood and science.

I studied at the University of Geneva, the Ecole Normale Supérieure (as Pensionnaire étranger) and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. After receiving my PhD in history from the University of Geneva and the EHESS, I have held visiting positions in the Universities of Heidelberg, Paris 1, Sciences Po Paris and Oxford. Between 2016 and 2019, I was a SNF Ambizione Fellow at the Institute of Political Studies of the University of Lausanne, as well as the co-Director of the Centre of International History and Political Studies of Globalization (2017-2019). In 2015-2016 and 2019-2021, I was a Research and Teaching Fellow at the Department of History of the University of Geneva. Since 2021, I hold a permanent position as Senior Research Associate and Lecturer at the Archives Institut Jean Jacques Rousseau, a research unit of the University of Geneva.

My first book – L’école républicaine et l’étranger (2015) – explores the wide range of transnational circulations and exchanges that shaped French school reforms in the second half of the 19th century. This research has been awarded the Louis Cros Prize in 2013 and the ISCHE First Book Award in 2017.

I am currently working on three research projects. The first one focuses on colonial education and aims to provide a connected history of imperial and international development policies in French Africa (1945-1961). A new monograph, tentatively entitled Missions modernisatrices. La France et l’Unesco en Afrique coloniale, 1945-1961, is forthcoming. The second project explores the history of trans-imperial scientific cooperation in colonial Africa (1920s-1960s). It will highlight how institutions such as the Scientific Council for Africa and the Commission for Technical Cooperation in Africa South of the Sahara shaped new research practices and discourses in an age of imperial crisis, especially in the fields of human/natural sciences and locust control. The third project aims at decentering the “sciences of childhood” by examining the construction and circulation of knowledge between the Institute Jean-Jacques Rousseau, based in Geneva, and countries of the Global South in the first half of the 20th century.

Get in touch: damianomatasci@gmail.com



See my contribution to the Encyclopédie d’histoire numérique de l’Europe, available online

« Les organisations internationales et l’éducation en contexte (post)colonial », Encyclopédie d’histoire numérique de l’Europe, 2021.


This new article provides a comparative analysis on the way the intellectual project of “histoire mondiale” has been implemented in various national contexts.

« L’histoire mondiale: un modèle historiographique en question », Revue suisse d’histoire, vol. 71, no 2, 2021, pp. 333-346.


Proud to be part of this new collective project, Humanity internationalized: cases, dynamics and comparisons (1945-1980), coordinated by José Pedro Monteiro and hosted by the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (2021-2024).

The description of the project is available here.


This themed issue of Paedagogica Historica explores the historical interconnections between internationalism and imperialism in colonial and postcolonial Africa.

Internationalism, Imperialism, and Education in Africa: Connected Histories, Paedagogica Historica. International Journal of the History of Education, vol. 57, no 3, 2021.

Articles by Damiano Matasci, Constantin Katsakioris, Anton Tarradellas and Tim Kaiser. Available here


The final programme of the international conference Internationalism(s) and Education during the Cold War. Actors, Rivalries and Circulations (Lausanne, June 23-25, 2021) is now available.

The event is open to the public upon previous registration.


I am the co-editor of this special issue of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (with Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo):

Imperialism, Internationalism and Globalisation in Twentieth Century Africa

Articles by Marta Grzechnik (University of Gdańsk), Geert Castryck (University of Leipzig), Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo (University of Coimbra), Matthew Unangst (Jacksonville University), Lola Wilhelm (University of Geneva), Damiano Matasci (University of Geneva), José Pedro Monteiro (University of Coimbra), Andrea Brazzoduro (University of Oxford)

Have a look at my two articles, available here:

« Imperialism, Internationalism and Globalization in Twentieth Century Africa », The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 48, no 5, 2020, pp. 793-804 (with Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo).

« Internationalizing Colonial Knowledge. Edgar Barton Worthington and the Scientific Council for Africa, 1949-1956 », The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 48, no 5, 2020, pp. 892-913.


A new edited book is out (October 2020)!

Repenser la “mission civilisatrice”. L’éducation dans le monde colonial et postcolonial au XXe siècle

Co-edited with Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo and Hugo Gonçalves Dores. More information here.


I have just published a new article in the journal Paedagogica Historica, also avalaible online. It focuses on the intersections between education, development and internationalism in French colonial Africa

Réformer l’Empire: éducation de base et développement en Afrique coloniale française (1945–1956)

(ahead of print, August 2020)

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I am the co-editor (with Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps) of this special issue of the French Journal Histoire@Politique (no. 41, 2020):

De la « mission civilisatrice » à l’aide au développement dans les pays du Sud: acteurs, pratiques et reconfigurations au XXe siècle

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Contributions of Bertrand Taithe, Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, Eleanor Davey, Angela Villani, Juliette Dumont, Yi-Tang Lin, José Pedro Monteiro, Lucile Dreidemy, Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Damiano Matasci

All articles are open access. Link


« Um paradigma para o desenvolvimento: a « educação de base » e os limites da cooperação internacional na África colonial (1945-49) », in Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, José Pedro Monteiro (eds.), Os Impérios do Internacional: casos, dinâmicas e perspectivas, Coimbra, Edições Almedina, 2020, pp. 275-296.

More information here

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NEW BOOK (Open Access)

Education and Development in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. Policies, Paradigms, Entanglements

Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, “ISCHE Global Histories of Education series”, 2020.

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Co-editor with Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo and Hugo Gonçalves Dores.

Thanks to the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation this book is available in open access.


Humanités et citoyenneté. L’enseignement des lettres et des langues en France, en Belgique et en Suisse au XIXe siècle

Histoire de l’éducation, no 149 (2018, but published in 2019).

Co-editor with Mara Donato di Paola.

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« (De)Constructing the Global Community: Education, Childhood and the Transnational History of International Organizations », in Fuchs, Eckhardt, Vera, Eugenia Roldán (eds.), The Transnational in the History of Education. Concepts and Perspectives, Palgrave MacMillan, 2019.

Book launch at the University of Porto on July 18, 2019.

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I am currently a Research and Teaching Fellow at the Department of History of the University of Geneva.

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