School of Modern Languages

Staff Profiles

Ellen Crabtree

  • Former Research Student

PhD candidate in French Studies


Professor Máire Cross, Dr Hugh Dauncey

The Historical Militancy of Madeleine Rebérioux, 1920 – 2005

My PhD critically examines the life of French historian Madeleine Rebérioux (1920 – 2005), through the hidden connections between academic, political and social engagement. Embedded in militancy through her academic interest in Jean Jaurès and French socialism, Rebérioux’s diverse engagement was remarkable, from being a leading figure of the anticolonial left in the 1950s and 1960s to being appointed President of the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme in the 1990s.

I have developed the epistemological term ‘historical militancy’ – namely the transaction between being a professional historian and being a social movement activist – in order to assess Rebérioux’s copious archives, bequeathed to the French state after her death. How did Rebérioux’s activism shape her historical interpretation of the past? Likewise, to what extent did Rebérioux’s nuanced view of history frame injustice in her intellectual interventions in French society?

My thesis focusses on three case studies examining Rebérioux’s historical militancy: firstly her anticolonial engagement as part of the anti-torture movement during both the Algerian war and at the turn of the millennium; secondly her role in May 1968 and her exclusion from the Parti Communiste Français; and lastly her presidency of the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme.

Research Interests

Intellectual history; French historiography; the role of historians in society; constructions of militancy (e.g. petitions, letter writing, protests and film-making)

Research Groups


FRE2010 From Dreyfus to De Gaulle: the makings of contemporary France

FRE1006 La France de 1789 à nos jours

FRE1071 Level B French general language

FRE2016 Level C French general language

SML1023 Languages for Business, French project leader


‘A historian’s passion for politics: Madeleine Rebérioux and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme’ Society for the Study of French History annual conference, Durham, 10 – 12 July 2014.

‘From Jean Jaurès to Madeleine Rebérioux: the interconnecting narratives between history and activism’, Inaugural event for the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Durham, 10 May 2014.

‘Changing Histories: Madeleine Rebérioux and the memory of torture in the Algerian War’, Society of French Historical Studies annual conference, Montreal, 25 – 27 April 2014.

‘Negotiating the boundaries of French History: Madeleine Rebérioux', History Lab North West, Manchester University, 1 November 2013.

Poster: 'Defining Militancy: Madeleine Rebérioux in her own words', Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France annual conference, Leicester University, 5-7 September 2013.

‘How to write a history of Madeleine Rebérioux: the problem of approach’, French Postgraduate Study Day, Warwick University, 2 March 2013.


Book review: ‘Jean-Charles Deniau, La vérité sur la mort de Maurice Audin’ Modern & Contemporary France (accepted for publication).

Book review: ‘Christophe Prochasson, François Furet: Les chemins de la mélancolie’, Modern & Contemporary France 22 1 (2014).


Postgraduate representative for the Society for Study of French History

Part of the organising team for the 2014 French Postgraduate Study Day, 1 March 2014 at Newcastle: (

SML careers blog assistant (

College mentor at Hatfield College, Durham University 

Academic Background

MA in Modern History, Durham University

BA in History and French (joint honours), Durham University