Dr Marc-William Palen



Extension: 5528

Telephone: 01392 725528

Office: Amory 308A

Office Hours: (Fall Term 2017) Mondays 4-6pm

I am a historian at the University of Exeter. I specialise in the intersection of British and American imperialism within the broader history of globalisation since c. 1800. I am particularly interested in comparing and contrasting the British and American Empires from the mid nineteenth century and, more broadly, in exploring how political economy, gender, and ideology have shaped global imperial expansion.

I have previously taught history at Tufts University in Boston and have been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the U.S. Studies Centre, University of Sydney, where I was then a Research Associate in U.S. Foreign Policy (2012-15). I have also held a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale's International Security Studies, and have been awarded the 2013-14 W. A. Williams Junior Faculty Research Award by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Samuels Young Scholars Award by the History of Economics Society.

I believe that connecting the past with the present is an essential part of a historian's craft. I am the co-director (with David Thackeray and Andrew Dilley) of the History and Policy Global Economics and History Forum in London. My commentary on historical and contemporary global affairs has appeared the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Conversation, the AustralianHistory Today, Newsweek, Time, and the Globalist, among others. I am also the editor of the Imperial & Global Forum, the blog of the Centre for Imperial & Global History. You can follow me on Twitter @MWPalen


The "Conspiracy" of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalisation, 1846-1896 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). "Books of the Year," Financial Times 2016 Summer Reading List; "Top Ten Books of 2016," Globalist Magazine.

Journal Articles

"Free-Trade Ideology and Transatlantic Abolitionism: A Historiography," Journal of the History of Economic Thought 37 (June 2015): 291-304.

"The Imperialism of Economic Nationalism, 1890-1913," Diplomatic History 39 (Jan. 2015): 157-185.

"Adam Smith as Advocate of Empire, c. 1870-1932," Historical Journal 57 (March 2014): 179-198. 

“Foreign Relations in the Gilded Age:  A British Free-Trade Conspiracy?” Diplomatic History 37: 2 (April 2013): 217-247.

 “The Civil War’s Forgotten Transatlantic Tariff Debate and the Confederacy’s Free Trade Diplomacy,” Journal of the Civil War Era 3: 1 (March 2013): 35-61.

“A Canadian Yankee in King Cotton’s Court,” Civil War History 18: 2 (June 2012): 224-261.

“Protection, Federation and Union:  The Global Impact of the McKinley Tariff upon the British Empire, 1890-94,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 38: 3 (Sept. 2010):  395-418.


U.S. Foreign Trade Policy from the Revolution to World War I,” Oxford Reference Encyclopedia in American History (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016): 1-22.

"Election of 1876/Compromise of 1877," in Edward O. Frantz, ed., A Companion to the Reconstruction Presidents 1865-1881 (Wiley Blackwell, 2014): 315-330.

“Mathew Carey,” “Henry Charles Carey,” and “Daniel Raymond.”  Dictionary of Early American Philosophers, edited by John R. Shook (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012).

Selected Commentary

"Decisions More Than A Century Ago Explain Why the US Has Failed Puerto Rico in its Time of Need," Washington Post (3 Oct. 2017).

Protectionism 100 Years Ago Helped Ignite a World War. Could It Happen Again?Washington Post (30 June 2017).

Britain’s Imperial Ghosts Have Taken Control of Brexit,” Conversation (26 June 2017). Featured at Yahoo News.

"How Mark Twain Became a Free Trader,Globalist Magazine (17 Aug. 2016).

"When Protectionism Dominated American Politics," Globalist Magazine (16 Aug. 2016).

"Trump and the Return of Economic Nationalism," Globalist Magazine (30 July 2016).

"The Return of 19th-century Protectionism," Time Magazine and History Today (27 April 2016, print and online).

History Repeating Itself? Free Trade is Once Again Tearing Apart the Republican Party,” ConversationNewsweek, and Raw Story (14 April 2016) .

"Trump's Anti-Trade Tirades Recall GOP's Protectionist Past," Conversation (16 Feb. 2016).

US-Cuba Embargo Goes Beyond the Cold War,History Today (21 Dec. 2014).

“Could Imperial History Help US Foreign Policy Makers?” History & Policy (24 Sept. 2014).

Is Global History Suitable for Undergraduates?Imperial & Global Forum (12 May 2014).

“Sleuthing the Origins of ‘Global History,’” New Global History Forum (3 Feb. 2014).

In Defense of Global History,” Imperial & Global Forum (20 Nov. 2013).

“The Great Civil War Lie,” New York Times (5 June 2013).

“The Protectionist Side of Outsourcing,” History & Policy (May 2013).

“Obama’s Atlantic Pivot,” The Globalist (20 Feb. 2013).

“America’s 51st State,” The Australian (28 Dec. 2012).

“Will Puerto Rico Become the 51st State?” History News Network (10 Dec. 2012).

“Return of the Paranoid Style,” History News Network (15 Oct. 2012).

“Containing China,” The Australian (18 May 2012).