- Nineteenth century British politics and political ideas
- Modern European imperial and international thought
- History of political and social science
I am currently completing my first book, British politics and imperial government, 1828-1867. A study in the relationship between politics and ideas, it sets out to explain why Britain’s imperial administrative and constitutional regime was transformed during the mid-nineteenth-century heyday of constitutional and religious reform from an object of near-universal opprobrium, to a subject of cross-party patriotic celebration. It argues that the answer can be found only in bringing together seemingly distinct controversies over settler self-government, the British regime in India, Crown colonies, and celebrity imperialists, and in relating all these things to partisan ideologies and broader anxieties about centralization, corruption, and the Church.
My next monographic project is provisionally entitled Anatomies of autocracy: European empires and arbitrary regimes in British politics, 1815-1886. It covers Victorian engagement with European empires of all kinds – transoceanic and territorial, contemporary and historic – and with other varieties of arbitrary polity. The book aims both to establish the place of European imperialism in nineteenth-century intellectual and political life, and to explore what was thought to make despotic rule functional (and in some cases legitimate). It ranges from the scattered Dutch colonial empire, to the multinational territorial rule of Austria, to dictatorial government in Latin America, and beyond. It also sets out to show how political information and argument on questions of imperial and arbitrary rule circulated between different European public spheres.
Alongside these main research strands, I also maintain an interest in contemporary historiography, which I pursue in reviews, review articles, and review essays: these have appeared in the English Historical Review, the Journal of British Studies, Victorian Studies, Parliamentary History, Reviews in History, Twentieth Century British History, and the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.