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Dr James Poskett

Dr  James Poskett

Adrian Research Fellow, Darwin College

Darwin College
Cambridge CB3 9EU


I grew up in Norwich before completing my BA, MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge. In 2015 I was appointed as the Adrian Research Fellow at Darwin College. I have also held research fellowships at the University of Sydney (2016), Harvard University (2014) and the Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science (2013).

My research engages broadly with the global and imperial history of science from 1750. I also have particular research interests in the history of slavery and the history of the book.

At the moment I am working on two projects. First, I am completing a book on the global history of phrenology, based on my doctoral research. Second, I am beginning a new project on the global history of science and print, with a particular focus on the useful knowledge movement in the nineteenth century.

I am also an advocate of public engagement, writing for national newspapers, websites and magazines. In 2013 I was shortlisted for the BBC New Generation Thinker Award.

From September 2017 I will be Assistant Professor in the History of Science and Technology at the University of Warwick.

Subject groups/Research projects

World History:

Departments and Institutes

Darwin College:

Research Interests

  • Global and imperial history of science from 1750
  • History of slavery and race
  • History of the book
  • Material culture

Research Supervision

I am happy to supervise BA and MPhil dissertations on all aspects of the global history of science, empire and print from 1750. Please feel free to get in contact.


I teach in both the History Faculty and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science on the following courses:

  • Empires and World History from the Fifteenth Century (Paper 21, Part I, History)
  • Islands and Beaches (Paper 30, Part II, History)
  • Historical Argument and Practice (Part II, History)
  • Science and Print in the Nineteenth Century (MPhil and Part III, HPS)
  • Science and Print in Colonial India (Part II, HPS)
  • History of Anthropology (Part II, HPS)
  • Science and Empire (Part II, HPS)
  • History of Science (Part 1B, HPS)

Key Publications


'Phrenology, correspondence, and the global politics of reform, 1815–1848'The Historical Journal, 2 (2017), pp. 409-442.

‘National types: the transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839)’History of Science, 53 (2015), pp. 264-295.

‘Sounding in silence: men, machines and the changing environment of naval discipline, 1796–1815’The British Journal for the History of Science, 48 (2015), pp. 213-232.

‘Forgotten dreams: recalling the patient in British psychotherapy, 1945–1960’Medical History, 59 (2015), pp. 241-254.

Other Publications

Book Reviews

'Sebastian Conrad, What is Global History? (Princeton, NJ, 2016)'Itinerario, 40 (2016), pp. 334-335.

‘William Burns, The Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective (Oxford, 2015)’The British Journal for the History of Science, 48 (2015), pp. 689-690.

‘David Lambert, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen's African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery (Chicago, 2013)’Reviews in History, review no. 1655 (2014).

‘Bernard Lightman, Gordon McOuat, and Larry Stewart (eds), The Circulation of Knowledge between Britain, India and China (Brill, 2013)’The British Journal for the History of Science, 47 (2014), pp. 567-569.


'Victorian phrenology'BBC History Magazine, 3 December 2015.

‘Skulls in print’University of Cambridge: Research News, 19 February 2014.

‘Django Unchained and phrenology’The Guardian, 5 February 2013.

‘Mathematics: a life computed’Nature 486: 321, 2012.

‘From Arabick Roots to the Arab Spring’The Guardian, 25 July 2011.

'Big Science in a big world'Physics World, 30 September 30 2011.