Field & Specialties
Modern Britain and British Empire; science and technology; war and violence; intellectual and cultural
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2012
A.M., Harvard University, 2009
A.B., Princeton University, 2006
Erik Linstrum is a historian of modern Britain in its imperial, European, and global contexts. His research explores the politics of knowledge and the circulation of information, with particular interests in science and technology, war and violence, and the long history of decolonization. His first book, Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire, won the George Louis Beer Prize of the American Historical Association for the best book of the year in European international history. He is now writing a history of knowledge about colonial violence which traces reports of atrocities in Malaya, Kenya, and Cyprus as they circulated through British society after 1945: from the anticolonial left to the imperialist and fascist right, from Fleet Street to the Church of England, from veterans' associations to the British Red Cross, from BBC teleplays to the West End theater scene.
Linstrum has held fellowships with the American Academy in Berlin, the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and the Institute of Historical Research in London. He currently serves as North American editor of the journal Twentieth Century British History.
Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023)
"The Case History in the Colonies," History of the Human Sciences 33 (October 2020): 85-94
"Domesticating Chemical Weapons: Tear Gas and the Militarization of Policing in the British Imperial World," Journal of Modern History 91 (September 2019): 557-585
“Facts about Atrocity: Reporting Colonial Violence in Postwar Britain,” History Workshop Journal 84 (fall 2017): 108-127
Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire (Harvard University Press, 2016)
"Specters of Dependency: Psychoanalysis in the Age of Decolonization," in Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism (Routledge, 2016)
“The Politics of Psychology in the British Empire, 1898-1960,” Past & Present 215 (May 2012): 195-233
Awards & Honors
ACLS/Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars, 2020
Berlin Prize, American Academy in Berlin, 2020
George Louis Beer Prize, American Historical Association, 2017
Kluge Fellowship, Library of Congress, 2016
Michigan Society of Fellows, University of Michigan, 2012-15
Walter D. Love Article Prize, North American Conference on British Studies, 2013
FHHS Article Prize, Forum for History of Human Science, 2013
Harold K. Gross Prize, Department of History, Harvard University, 2012
Linstrum teaches surveys of modern British and British imperial history and seminars on a wide range of topics, including European colonial violence, London, George Orwell, and the history of the human sciences.