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Penny (on leave 2022-2023) Sinanoglou
Associate Professor

Phone: 336.758.5522
Office: Tribble B-2


Penny Sinanoglou teaches British and European imperial and international history. She is the author of Partitioning Palestine: British Policymaking at the End of the Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2019), which won the 2020 Phi Alpha Theta Best First Book award, and related articles and chapters in The Historical Journal and in edited volumes on twentieth century partitions and the history of the British empire in Palestine. Sinanoglou is broadly interested in the intersections between British imperial power and international systems of oversight and governance; the role of ethnicity, religion, gender and nationality in imperial politics; and the changing legal status of imperial subjects in the colonial and postcolonial eras. She is currently writing a legal history of marriage in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century British empire.


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B.A. Columbia University 2000
Ph.D. Harvard University 2008

Academic Appointments:
Harvard University 2008-2010
Princeton University 2010-11
Wake Forest University 2011-

Click here for the complete CV.


  • HST 102: Europe and the World in the Modern Era
    This course offers an introduction to the history of Europe from the Old Regime to the early twenty-first century. We explore social, economic, political, cultural and intellectual history, engaging with themes such as the structures and functions of government and society, the role of international relations in shaping domestic, regional and global politics, the relationship of people to modes of production and consumption, the influence of ideas on political, economic and social life, and the position of individuals in relation to communities and states.
  • HST 224: Great Britain Since 1750
    This course covers Britain’s development from the middle of the eighteenth century to the present, examining its place at the forefront of many of the trends that we think of as constituting modernity: representative government, rapid and urbanizing population growth, industrialization, financial and commercial globalization and imperialism, mass culture, and the rise, fall and reemergence of liberalism. Throughout we explore Britain’s transnational relationships, both within the United Kingdom, and between Britain, its Empire, its European neighbors, and its former colony, the United States.
  • HST 309: European International Relations Since World War I
    This course covers European international relations, broadly construed, from the lead-up to the First World War through to the fallout from the Euro and immigration crises. The course takes seriously the notion that international relations are more than just diplomatic relations; course readings and class discussions cover the roles of state and non-state actors, ideologies, economies, and socio-cultural forces in international relations. Although the course is arranged chronologically, it also seeks to make thematic connections, focusing in particular on the role played in international relations by the collapse of empires; domestic politics; popular mobilization on both the right and left; challenges to the nation-state in the form of transnational ideologies; sovereignty in both new and old forms; and currency, trade, investment, and financial settlements.
  • HST 311: Migrants and Refugees in Modern History

    As the world faces a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the end of World War II, this course offers a sustained historical exploration of forced migrations and of the development of the universalist concept of refuge. Covering the 16th to 20th centuries and spanning the United States to East Asia, the course offers a wide-ranging set of cases across temporal and geographic boundaries. It examines cases ranging from the forced migrations of Native American nations and enslaved Africans, to the waves of refugees that the wars of the twentieth century produced across Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. The course begins and ends with a brief overview of the millions of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and others who have entered Europe in recent years. Throughout, it asks how political, legal, and cultural understandings of migrations and refuge have changed over time, and how or whether groups and individuals have thought of a humanitarian imperative. It tracks how states, empires, multi-state actors and non- governmental organizations have handled migrants and refugees, tracing the creation and operation in the twentieth century of an international refugee regime. Finally, the course pays close attention throughout to the lived experiences of individual migrants and refugees.

  •  HST 367: Public History of Refugee Resettlement

    How do people learn history outside of the classroom and make sense of the presence of the past? This course introduces students to the major issues involved in public history – that is, the practice, interpretation, and public display of history with and for nonacademic audiences. The course blends theory and practice by providing an informed and engaging overview of the work of public historians while introducing students to the challenges that face practitioners in the field. In addition to a broad overview of theoretical, ethical, and other issues in the field, this course emphasizes methodology by leading students through the creation of a public exhibition of their own design on the topic of refugee resettlement. In partnership with a community organization, World Relief, students create an exhibition that meet the organization’s goals while offering a public audience an accurate, educational, and interesting story about the history of refugee resettlement in our community. This project requires students to work together to conduct oral history interviews, create an institutional archive for World Relief, write and revise exhibit text, and curate an exhibit that follows the best practices in the field.

  • HST 389: The British Empire in the Middle East
    This course covers the eighteenth- to twentieth-century history of the British Empire in the diverse area commonly referred to as the Middle East: the Arabian peninsula, Egypt, Sudan (the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium) and portions of the former Ottoman Empire that fell under British mandate after World War One, namely Iraq, Palestine and Transjordan. It also places British interest in the Middle East in a broader global context, paying particular attention to intra-European imperial rivalries as well as to Britain’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia and India. Themes include scholarly theories of imperialism; techniques of imperial rule; local collaboration and resistance; social and cultural facets of imperialism; economic, environmental, and legal foundations and impacts of British rule in the Middle East; decolonization; memories of imperialism; and the historical roots of contemporary relations between the Middle East, Britain, and its most significant post-war ally, the US
  • HST 390: The End of the European Empires
    At the start of World War II in 1939, approximately one-third of the world’s population lived under European colonial rule. By the end of the twentieth century, that number had dropped to less than one percent. This research seminar takes as its focus the process of decolonization in the twentieth century, comparing and contrasting the end of European empires in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Themes addressed in the readings include the roles of violent and non-violent resistance, European domestic politics and international agreements, cultural imperialism and post-colonial immigration. We ask why decolonization was sudden in some places and protracted in others, consensual and relatively peaceful in certain territories and explosively divisive in others. The course includes an examination of the legacy of empire and decolonization in the contemporary world, and of the persistence of imperialism in the twenty-first century.
  • FYS 100: Explorers, Travelers, Tourists: Europeans Abroad in the Age of Empires
    From fifteenth-century explorers who set foot in the New World to the masses of tourists taking EasyJet holidays for weekends in North Africa, European travelers have had a tremendous impact on the development of a truly global world that is interconnected environmentally, politically, economically and culturally. This seminar focuses on Europeans traveling abroad from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries and asks how travel changed over this period, and what its impact was on the travelers themselves, on European life at home, and on the people with whom the travelers came in contact.

Monographs and Edited Collections

Partitioning Palestine: British Policymaking at the End of Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2019)

Articles and Essays

  • “Analogical Thinking and Partition in British Mandate Palestine,” in Partitions: Towards a Transnational History of 20th-century Territorial Separatism, Arie Dubnov and Laura Robson, eds. (Stanford University Press, 2019)
  • “League of Nations Mandates,” in The Encyclopedia of Empire, John MacKenzie, ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016)
  • “The Peel Commission and Partition, 1936-1938,” in Britain, Palestine and Empire: The Mandate Years, Rory Miller, ed. (Ashgate, 2010), pp. 119-140.
  • “British plans for the partition of Palestine, 1929-1938,” The Historical Journal, 52, 1 (2009), pp. 131–152.