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Dr Charles Prior

Dr Charles Prior

Head of the School of Humanities & Reader in History

Faculty and Department

  • Faculty of Arts Cultures and Education
  • School of Humanities


  • MA
  • PhD (Queens University Canada)


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.

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, 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 current project is 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 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.


Indigenous America

Revolutions: Continuity and Change

The First Superpowers

Recent outputs

View more outputs


Settlers in Indian Country: Sovereignty and Indigenous Power in Early America

Prior, C. (2020). Settlers in Indian Country: Sovereignty and Indigenous Power in Early America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Book Chapter

Settlers among empires: conquest and the American Revolution

Prior, C. W. A. (2018). Settlers among empires: conquest and the American Revolution. In E. Vallance (Ed.), Remembering Early Modern Revolutions: England, North America, France and Haiti (79-93). Routledge

Early Stuart Controversy

Prior, C. W. A. (2017). Early Stuart Controversy. In A. Hiscock, & H. Wilcox (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Religion (69-83). Oxford University Press.

England's Wars of Religion: A Reassessment

Prior, C. (2015). England’s Wars of Religion: A Reassessment. In W. Palaver, H. Rudolph, & D. Regensburger (Eds.), The European wars of religion: An interdisciplinary reassessment of sources, interpretations and myths (119-138). Routledge

Journal Article

Beyond Settler Colonialism: State Sovereignty in Early America

Prior, C. (2019). Beyond Settler Colonialism: State Sovereignty in Early America. Journal of early American history, 9(2-3), 93-117.

Research interests

American and British History, 1607-1800

European / Native American Diplomacy

Settler Colonialism

International Law

American Revolution







Conquest and the ‘Right to Hold’: Territorial Sovereignty and the American Revolution


The Leverhulme Trust




1 October 2017



Postgraduate supervision

Angelina Osborne, ‘Powers and Persuasion: The London West India Committee, 1783-1833’. Funded by University of Hull 80th Anniversary Scholarship. Completed 2014.

James Walters, ‘Covenanters After the Covenant in Restoration England, 1660-1690’. Funded by NECAH Studentship. Completed 2018.

Heather Hatton, ‘The Languages and Spaces of Diplomacy in Early America, 1701-1774’. Completed 2021.

External examiner role

External Examiner, MSt (History) - Faculty of History, Oxford


Funder panel member

Member, Peer Review College, AHRC


Peer Review College, UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships


Journal peer reviewer

Peer Review (publishing)


Article manuscript reviews for: The William and Mary Quarterly; The Journal of Modern History; The American Political Science Review; Journal of British Studies; History of Political Thought; The Historical Journal; The Historian; The Canadian Journal of History