Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Dr Charles Prior


Charles Prior

Head of the School of Humanities & Reader in History

Biography 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.

With my colleague Joy Porter I lead the Treatied Spaces Research Group. Our aim is to deepen understanding of treaties as living and contested instruments of inter-cultural diplomacy. Historic and contemporary treaties remain central to the quest for social and environmental justice across the globe and are a foundation for renewed and more balanced relationships between Indigenous and settler communities. They shape our understanding of sovereignty over land, resources, peoples and environments on earth, in the seas and in space.

My initial research interest focussed on the sovereignty and the political of religion in early modern Britain. I 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, 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. My fourth book is Treaty Ground: Diplomacy and the Politics of Sovereignty in the American Northeast - now under editorial review. 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 am also working on Back to Ka-ou-enesegoan, a project about movement, memory and the layered histories that connect one island to multiple international locales. An essay that frames this project will be published in The Queen's Quarterly , 130 n. 3 (Fall 2023)
Research Interests American and British History, 1607-1800
European / Native American Diplomacy
Settler Colonialism
International Law
American Revolution
Teaching and Learning 2023-24

Indigenous America (with Joy Porter and Greg Smithers)
Revolutions: Continuity and Change
The First Superpowers
Scopus Author ID 55808634600