Department of History

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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 race, labour and law modern Britain and the British Empire in the 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. Currently, I am on a year-long research sabbatical, supported by the Leverhulme Foundation. In the past, my work has also been supported by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Isaac Manasseh Meyer Fellowship (National University of Singapore).

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. My topics of study range from the history of local courtrooms in London's East End to slavery and indentured labour in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds. My current research examines the end of slavery in the British Empire, its long-term legacies, and their relationship to the modern state, Liberalism, 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:

  • Late-stage slavery and its legacies in the nineteenth century
  • Chinese and Indian Labour Diasporas in the Nineteenth Century
  • Race and migration in the British Empire
  • Legal culture and gender in Britain and the Empire

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

Elizabeth Egan (w/Prof. David Lambert, Warwick), "Constructing and Contesting Creole Whiteness in Jamaica, 1865-1938"

James Hulbert (w/ Prof. David Lambert, Warwick and Dr. Alex Korb, Leicester), "Before High Imperialism: Exploring the trans-imperial nature of British colonial violence in Australia, India and South Africa, 1857-1884"

I expect to be on research leave in the autumn of 2023.

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, which is supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, examines the transition from late-stage slavery to Indian and Chinese indentured labour in the nineteenth-century British… 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, which is supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, examines the transition from late-stage slavery to Indian and Chinese indentured labour in the nineteenth-century British Empire (esp. the Caribbean and Southeast Asia) and its historical significance in both the domestic and colonial contexts. By examining both the structural elements of colonial labour regimes and the more intimate social history of slavery and the Indian and Chinese labour 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 the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

My second monograph, Armed with Sword and Scales, was published in 2021 by 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 Law and History Review, 20th Century British History, the Journal of British Studies, The Historian, the Journal of Social History, and Comparative Studies in Society and History. My article in Law and History Review received Honorable Mention for the 2016 Sutherland Prize from the American Society for Legal History.

Future Research

I am currently developing two new research projects. The first looks at the material history of imperialism, especially how it relates to the historical agency of inanimate objects. The second examines how enslaved men and women engaged the agents and institutions of the colonial state in the nineteenth century. In the latter, I am particular interested in how the idea of "legal consciousness" might be critically re-examined in light of the contributions made by postcolonial studies and critical race theory.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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