Sam Coombes

Senior Lecturer


Sam works in the fields of political philosophy, the history of ideas and cultural studies, also in a comparatist perspective, and in the field of postcolonial studies. His first monograph The Early Sartre and Marxism (Lang, 2008) was centred in the fields of political thought and ethics, relating the thought and literary writings of Sartre to a number of European Marxist thinkers (Marx&Engels, Trotsky, Lukács, Gramsci, Lefebvre, Merleau-Ponty) in a comparative study. Sartre's public support for anti-colonial struggles led to Sam developing a specialist interest in postcolonial thought and writing, first in the francophone world and then in a francophone-anglophone comparative perspective. The Caribbean is his geographical area of specialism and he is an internationally recognised specialist of the work of Edouard Glissant owing both to the many articles, public lectures, conference papers and in particular a monograph, Edouard Glissant A Poetics of Resistance (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), which he has devoted to Glissant's oeuvre.

The focus of this second monograph is not only Glissant but in equal measure the points of intersection between the contemporary postcolonial condition and alter-globalization theory and activism. This interest led Sam in part to diasporic studies and he is co-founder of the Diaspolinks International Research Network which is dedicated to comparative research in the field of diaspora studies. (Network website:    ) He is also the initiator and coordinator of the Diasporic Trajectories seminar held at Edinburgh University's Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, the interest surrounding which led to an invitation to guest-edit a Special Issue of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing (Taylor&Francis/Routledge) devoted to publishing in article form papers which were presented in the seminars . This  Special Issue is entitled 'Diasporic Trajectories: charting new critical perspectives' (JPW, volume 55, no. 6, December 2019).

Sam was on the organising committee of the nine-day conference devoted to the work of Glissant, entitled 'Edouard Glissant, la Relation mondiale',  which was held at Cerisy la Salle, Normandy, in August 2022.

He spent 2018-19 as a visiting professor in the department of comparative studies at Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle University. 

Sam is an occasional invited speaker on the France Culture radio station. He has thus far been invited to speak on four broadcasts, and additionally to give a 1-hour presentation of his work to a live audience at the Maison de la Radio, also broadcast nationally. He has also made appearances on BBC radio. Glissant was the subject of his penultimate appearance, on this occasion on the 'Avec philosophie' programme:

Sam Coombes is Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh University, having previously taught at Paris 10 Nanterre University (2001-7). After a state school education in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire he spent a year out in Paris in 1993-4, living in the Goutte d'Or and working in St Denis. He then did an undergraduate joint degree in philosophy and French (1994-8) and a Doctorate both at Oxford University, including spending 1996-7 teaching as a British Council ELA  at collège and lycée level in France. Sam spent 2000-1 studying at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d'Ulm, Paris. He is an associated member of the CREW (Centre for Research on the English-Speaking World) and the CREC (Centre de Recherche en Civilisation Britannique) at Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle.

He has been a member of the University Senate since 2021 and is on the editorial board of the online journal the Literary Encyclopedia. 

Sam's specialist 4th year Option courses include:-

'Francophone Postcolonial'. Authors studied:  Césaire, Senghor, Fanon, Sartre, Memmi, Glissant, Condé, Chamoiseau, Mbembe, Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Young, Gilroy, Wa Thiong'o, Lazarus

'Twentieth-Century French Political Thought'. Authors studied: Jaurès, Guesde, Blum, Barrès, Maurras, Alain, Sartre, Lefebvre, Aron, De Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, De Gaulle 

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • 2011 to present: Year Abroad and Erasmus Coordinator
  • 2016-17: Department of European Languages and Cultures Head of academic adminstration
  • 2009-2013: Course Director for the Masters in European Studies for the Department of European Languages and Cultures
  • 2014: 1B (1st yr group) Course Organiser
  • 2013: PGCertAP and FHEA
  • 2011-13: DELC Representative on the Board of Studies
  • 2010-11: 1B Language Coordinator and FLA Coordiantor

Undergraduate teaching

Final-year specialist option courses in: 'Postcolonial Studies'; 'Twentieth-Century French Political Thought'; and 'Sartre'

Authors studies on these courses include:-

'Francophone postcolonial': Césaire, Senghor, Fanon, Sartre, Memmi, Glissant, Chamoiseau, Spivak, Bhabha, Young, Gilroy, Lazarus

'Twentieth-Century French Political Thought': Jaurès, Blum, Barrès, Maurras, Alain, Sartre, Lefebvre, Aron, Merleau-Ponty, De Gaulle.  

Postgraduate teaching

Teaching, dissertation supervision and examining for the MSc in European Studies, the MSc in Transatlanticism and the MSc in Translation Studies.

Research summary

Requests for PhD supervision in all my areas of research specialism are welcomed.


Affiliated research centres

Project activity

Sam is founder of the Diapolinks International Research Network, an interdisciplinary research network focused on the study of issues relating to diasporic and migrant communities and individuals. Our focus is both political and cultural, also taking account of contemporary theoretical debates in the field. We are currently awaiting feedback of a joint AHRC - Labex (France) application for funding. Website:

Sam is on the organising committee of the forthcoming ten-day international conference devoted to the work of Edouard Glissant scheduled for August 2022, entitled 'Edouard Glissant, La Relation mondiale'. Organising committee: Tiphaine Samoyault (EHESS), Christian Uwe (University of Minnesota), Sam Coombes (University of Edinburgh)

Sam initiated, coordinated and runs the Diasporic Trajectories research seminar and was invited to guest-edit a Special Number of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing featuring exclusively papers from the seminar in article form:  'Diasporic Tajectories: Charting new critical perspectives' (Taylor&Francis/Routledge, December 2019)


Sam Coombes is a member of:

  • The UK Postcolonial Studies Association
  • The Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies (SFPS)
  • The SAES (France)
  • He is an associated member of the CREW (Centre for Research on the English-Speaking World) and its British Politics branch (the CREC) at the University of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle