- Disease and war
- Cultural history of war
- Global history and disease
My research examines the history of war, disease, and bodies, particularly in the British and French empires. 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, including the history of statistics. 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 alongside political methodologies such as statistics and censuses. 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 (awarded the AAHM 2016 George Rosen Prize and the SAHR 2014 Best First Book).
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 colonial war was a crucial part of Enlightenment intellectual developments. I have a long-standing interest in the relationship between war and civil society; I have published on the history of prisoners of war and co-edited a volume ‘Civilians and War in Europe, 1618-1815’.
More broadly, I am interested in global approaches to history, both for research and teaching. One of my current research projects examines the nature of violence in the early modern world, integrating military history into broader cultural histories of violence. I am also part of a transnational and interdisciplinary project that examines the history of methodologies for quantifying and identifying casualties and losses in war, including changing notions of ‘acceptable’ losses in war.