Danna Agmon is an Assistant Professor in the History department, and Core Faculty in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT). She was trained in an interdisciplinary program, receiving a PhD in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan in 2011. Her specialty is the history of French empire in the early modern period, and her research explores the fraught intersection of commerce and conversion in the eighteenth-century French colonies, specifically in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Currently she is working on a book manuscript, which is based on her dissertation, titled “An Uneasy Alliance: Traders, Missionaries and Tamil Intermediaries in Eighteenth-Century French India.” This project examines the reliance of French colonial officials, traders and Catholic missionaries in the colony of Pondichéry, India, on a cadre of Tamil men employed as commercial brokers and religious interpreters. It examine global imperial history through a resolutely local lens, and demonstrate that Pondichéry was a locale where the internal contradictions of the French imperial project, which sought to simultaneously profit, colonize, and proselytize, became glaringly apparent.
An article drawn from this project, “Intermediaries on the Move: Mobility and Stability in the Making of Colonial Go-Betweens in Eighteenth-Century French India,” will appear in a volume titled Intermédiaires culturels/Cultural Intermediaries, published by Honoré-Champion Press. Her work has been supported by a Bourse Chateaubriand, the Council for European Studies, and the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities.
A commitment to interdisciplinary exploration informs Danna’s teaching as well as her scholarship, and she looks forward to offering ASPECT seminars in historical anthropology, micro-history, and comparative legal and imperial history. Prior to her academic work, Danna was a journalist, and worked as an editor in the news desk of Ma’ariv, a large daily newspaper in Israel.