Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Madeline Woker

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs


Madeline is a research associate in international and public affairs at the Watson Institute. She will defend her dissertation in history at Columbia University in September 2020. She obtained an MPhil in Modern European History (with distinction) from Cambridge University in 2014. She is also a graduate of the London School of Economics and Sciences Po Paris.



I am broadly interested in researching the intersection of empire, race, and inequality. Methodologically, I use the analytic of racial capitalism to understand how France taxed its empire and to interrogate the very idea of “taxation” in a colonial context. My dissertation, “Empire of inequality: the politics of taxation in the French empire, 1900-1950s”, is a comparative political history of taxation and inequality in the French colonial empire. Based on extensive archival work on three continents, the dissertation examines how colonial tax regimes were debated, resisted, reformed, and transformed.

 I am also very interested in fostering interdisciplinary dialogue across history, political science and history. In February 2020, I organized an international and multidisciplinary conference on “The New Political Economies of the French Empire, 19th-20th centuries” at Columbia University.



“E. R. A. Seligman, initiator of global progressive public finance”, Journal of Global History, Volume 13, Issue 3, November 2018, pp. 352-373



I have taught classes on the history of capitalism, France and its empire, the French Revolution and American history surveys.


Talks & Media

“Global Taxation Is a Mess. Here’s How to Start Fixing It.” The Nation, December 20, 2019

“Quantitative Literacy for historians: who’s afraid of numbers?” (with Nicholas Mulder), Perspectives on History, Guest Blog, May 18, 2016