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Sascha Auerbach

Lecturer in Modern British and Colonial History, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I am a historian of modern Britain and the British Empire in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. I was born in London, but did my degrees in the U.S. at Oberlin College (B.A.) and Emory University (M.A.,Ph.D.). Before coming to Nottingham, I held full-time posts in both the U.S. and Canada, most recently at the University of Northern British Columbia. In 2011, I was a Fulbright research scholar at King's College London (Law), and in spring 2016, I was a visiting research fellow at University College London's Institute of Advanced Studies.

Expertise Summary

I am primarily a cultural historian, with a particular interest in the interaction between individual identity, structures of the state, and ideas about race and gender in the final decades of the nineteenth century and the initial decades of the twentieth. My topics of study range from the history of local courtrooms in London's East End to indentured labour in South African gold mines and the sugar plantations of British Guiana. My current research examines migration and indentured labour in the British Empire, and its relationship to the dynamics of race, Liberal and Labour ideologies, and anti-colonial and humanitarian activism in British domestic and imperial society.

I can supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students with research interests in the following areas:

  • Modern Britain (esp. cultural and social history), 1870-1930
  • Race and migration in the British Empire
  • Chinese and Indian Labour Diasporas in the Nineteenth Century
  • Legal culture and gender in urban Britain

I am currently supervising the following Ph.D. thesis:

Freddie Stephenson (IAPS), "Embodying Empire: the Civic and Medical Topography of Hong Kong and Shanghai, 1857-1919" (provisional title)

I expect to be on research leave in the spring of 2020.

Teaching Summary

I currently teach modules on the history of the British Empire in the nineteenth century, the social and cultural history of Britain during the First World War and on the history of law, vice, and… read more

Research Summary

My current research examines Indian and Chinese indentured labour in the nineteenth-century British Empire (esp. British Guiana, Malaysia, Mauritius, and southern Africa) and its historical… read more

Recent Publications

I currently teach modules on the history of the British Empire in the nineteenth century, the social and cultural history of Britain during the First World War and on the history of law, vice, and morality in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century through the early interwar period. At the postgraduate level, I offer seminars on postcolonial theory and the role of race, immigration and imperialism in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Britain. In addition, I contribute to the department's' team-taught undergraduate modules.

Current Research

My current research examines Indian and Chinese indentured labour in the nineteenth-century British Empire (esp. British Guiana, Malaysia, Mauritius, and southern Africa) and its historical significance in both the domestic and colonial contexts. Indentured labour, far from being merely an interim stage between slave labour and free labour, was a distinct and vital element in the history of global society, culture and commerce, and in the historical relationship between Britain, Asia, and the Caribbean. By examining both the structural elements of colonial labour regimes and the more intimate social history of the Indian and Chinese diasporas, I hope to reconcile the established tradition of imperial political and economic history with the newer veins of cultural and postcolonial histories and to deepen our understanding of the historical relationship between Britain and the world in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This project will draw on the research into race and labour that I conducted for my first monograph, The Chinese Puzzle and the models of culture, state and authority I have employed in my second book manuscript, Sword and Scales. I hope that it will foster a cross-disciplinary discussion among historians, legal scholars, political scientists, human rights advocates, and post-colonial theorists, all of whom share a common interest in the languages and practices of imperialism and the responses it evoked.

My second monograph, Armed with Sword and Scales, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. It employs the methodologies of cultural, social and legal history in conjunction with a wide array of primary sources to examine the roles of the London Police Courts in local communities and the wider legal culture of the nation. This project has been funded by the US-UK Fulbright Association, and by both a Standard Research Grant and an Insight Grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Past Research

My published scholarship has focused on race and immigration in British and British imperial society, and on the relationship between the state and the individual in modern society. My first book, Race, Law, and "the Chinese Puzzle" in Imperial Britain, was published in 2009. My research articles have also appeared in the Journal of British Studies, The Historian, the Journal of Social History, and Comparative Studies in Society and History. My most recent article, published in Law and History Review, received Honorable Mention for the 2016 Sutherland Prize from the American Society for Legal History.

Future Research

My next major research project will be an examination of the relationship between the British Empire and the history of the industrial midlands. I have also begin preliminary investigations into the nature of "imperial knowledge" and how the practice of imperialism was influenced by the development of aesthetics, the merging of artistic and geographical inquiry, and the rise of ethnography and anthropology.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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