Pomfret, David M.


Pomfret, David M. , Professor

Professor David M. Pomfret is Chairperson of the Department of History. His research specialisations are in British and French history, histories of Childhood and Youth, and the transnational and comparative history of modern Europe and its empires. His recent work engages with British and French cultures of colonialism through the lens of childhood and youth and utilises a comparative and transnational approach. Focusing upon histories of children, their agency, and how concepts of childhood traveled this research has illuminated how metropolitan and colonial discourses and practices intersected and interacted. His work engages an interdisciplinary audience of scholars and students working on empire(s), specialists working in British or French imperialism, regional (Asian) colonial studies, and the interdisciplinary field of the history of childhood and youth.


Currently, Professor Pomfret is working on a RGC GRF project examining trans-colonial cultures of youth in Asia from the late 19th to the mid 20th century. European society in colonial places was often strikingly young. What implications did this have? The project examines the difference that age made to colonialism and imperialism in Europe's empires. Using a trans-colonial and comparative approach looking across empires it reveals how the cultures of youth flourishing in empire places in East and Southeast Asia affected the broad course of European history. The project shows how the youthfulness became a principal criterion for membership of foreign society 'Out East,' and powerfully informed the way 'Europeans' and others saw themselves; how the demographic youthfulness of foreign societies from Saigon to Shanghai posed a multitute of challenges to governments; and how it defined the cultures and institutions of colonialism in places such as Hong Kong, Hanoi, Saigon, and Singapore. This project contributes to an important new research agenda tracing the global genealogies of youth cultural practice and it reveals how youth mobility connected empire worlds.