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Lachlan Fleetwood

Lachlan Fleetwood

PhD Candidate in History

Cambridge Trust Scholar

Clare College
Trinity Lane

Twitter: @lachlanfleet


I am currently completing my PhD in the Faculty of History under the supervision of Dr Sujit Sivasundaram, where I look at scientific practice and the role of intermediaries in the exploration of the Himalaya in the first half of the nineteenth century. Prior to coming to Cambridge, I completed an MA in history at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a BA(Hons) in history at the University of Queensland in Australia, where I have also worked as a senior library assistant, relief lecturer and tutor.

Research Interests

My doctoral thesis is provisionally titled ‘Altitude, science and intermediaries in the exploration of the Himalaya, 1800-50.’ My research revolves around four main aspects of science and scientific practice in relation to the mountains: physiology, biogeography, geology and scientific instruments. In this project, I conceive of the Himalaya in a broad sense – social, cultural, political, and imaginative as much as geographical – and treat it as both a space and a subject of scientific practice. Within this, I pay particular attention to the way science and exploration in the mountains was inherently political, and entangled with imperial insecurities around borderlands. Throughout, I also maintain a focus on the roles and presences of Asian intermediaries in European scientific practice, and on demonstrating the extent to which Himalayan exploration depended on local expertise. I am particularly interested in the imaginative, scientific and political constitution of the Himalaya in the first half of the nineteenth century, which has tended to be overlooked by scholars in favour of the later period. Zooming out, I am interested in the comparative nature of mountain sciences, and the emergence of ideas of verticality across the first half of the nineteenth century as an example of the formation of a global science.


Key interests: world/global history, history of science, history of exploration, spatial history, historical geography, South Asia, intermediaries, empire, colonial knowledge.


Historical Argument and Practice: Empire

Historical Argument and Practice: Global and Transnational History

Other Professional Activities

Co-organiser of the conference "Global Mountains" (with Tom Simpson), 5-6 July 2018, University of Cambridge (CFP available here).

Co-organiser of the graduate conference "Geographies of World History," 30 September 2017, University of Cambridge

Convener of the World History Workshop (2016/17)

Key Publications

Lachlan Fleetwood, ‘“No former travellers having attained such a height on the earth’s surface”: Instruments, inscriptions, and bodies in the Himalaya, 1800-1830,’ History of Science (5 October 2017), DOI:10.1177/0073275317732254

(Available online, forthcoming in print)