- Disease and war
- Cultural history of war
- Global history and disease
My research examines how war and disease intersect with state formation and state power, particularly in colonial contexts. My monograph Disease, War, and the Imperial State: The Welfare of British Armed Forces during the Seven Years War (Chicago, 2014) traces how responses to disease shaped military strategy, medical theory, and the nature of British imperial authority. The American Association for the History of Medicine awarded this the George Rosen Prize for 2016, and the Society for Army Historical Research awarded this Best First Book for 2014. My published work on this topic also includes 'The Caring Fiscal-Military State during the Seven Years War, 1756-1763', Historical Journal (2009).
My current research focuses on manpower during the eighteenth century, examining the history of bodies as well as the history of methods used to measure and enhance bodies, labour, and population as a whole. Since disease was the biggest threat to manpower in the early modern world, I look at how disease environments – throughout the world - shaped military, commercial, and agricultural power, as well as how overseas experiences shaped European theories of medicine, biology, and race. I am particularly interested in reconciling Enlightenment histories of a cosmopolitan Europe with military histories that portray the eighteenth century as a period of near-constant military conflict, in part by tracing how war was a crucial part of Enlightenment intellectual developments.
More broadly, I am interested in global approaches to history, both for research and teaching. My current research uses comparative and transnational frameworks, and my focus on disease and early modern warfare also draws on networks and transmission patterns that challenge national boundaries. I am also interested in the relationship between war and civil society during the early modern period. One of my current research projects is on prisoners of war during the eighteenth century, and I have also co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Civilians and War in Europe, 1618-1815.