Email: j dot poskett at warwick dot ac dot uk
Office: 3.50, Third Floor, Faculty of Arts Building
Term-Time Office Hours: 14:00–15:00 Mondays and 16:00–17:00 Thursdays (excluding reading week).
- 2021 onwards: Associate Professor in the History of Science and Technology, University of Warwick
- 2017–2021: Assistant Professor in the History of Science and Technology, University of Warwick
- 2015–2017: Adrian Research Fellow, Darwin College, University of Cambridge
- 2012–2015: PhD, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
- 2011–2012: MPhil, King's College, University of Cambridge
- 2007–2010: BA, King's College, University of Cambridge
Centres and Networks
- Global History and Culture Centre
- History of Science and Technology Hub
- Centre for the History of Medicine
My research engages broadly with the global history of science and technology from 1750 to the present day.
Before joining Warwick, I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge and held the Adrian Research Fellowship at Darwin College, Cambridge. I have also held research fellowships at the University of Sydney, Harvard University, and the Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
My second book, Horizons: A Global History of Science, will be published by Penguin in March 2022. This book provides a major reassessment of the rise of modern science. Beginning in the fifteenth century and moving right through to the present, Horizons pushes the history of science beyond Europe, exploring the ways in which Africa, America, Asia and the Pacific fit into the story. It presents familiar characters, like Newton and Einstein, in a new light, whilst also uncovering the contributions of lesser-known scientists from around the world. From Chinese astronomers and Mexican geneticists to Japanese physicists and Indian chemists, this is the story of the scientists who have been written out of history.
My first book, Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815–1920 (University of Chicago Press, 2019), followed the making of the most popular mental science of the Victorian age. Skulls were collected in China and Africa, societies cross-circulated journals between Edinburgh and Calcutta, and translations of French phrenological works were imported into Melbourne and Boston. Bringing together museum and archival collections from across the world, Materials of the Mind presented the history of nineteenth-century science as part of global history. It showed how the circulation of skulls, plaster casts, letters and photographs underpinned the emergence of a new materialist philosophy of the mind. Materials of the Mind was awarded the 2020 President's Book Award by the Social Science History Association.
- Horizons: A Global History of Science (Penguin, 2022), 446pp., 38 B&W illustrations, 16pp. colour plates.
- Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815–1920 (University of Chicago Press, 2019), 373pp., 47 B&W illustrations.
- Winner of the 2020 President's Book Award, Social Science History Association.
- (eds), Migration (Cambridge University Press, 2020), (with Johannes Knolle), 184pp.
- 'Race, material culture, and the global history of science,' Global Intellectual History, 6 (2021), pp. 142–57
- 'Science in history,' The Historical Journal, 62 (2020) pp. 209–42
- 'Phrenology, correspondence, and the global politics of reform, 1815–1848,' The Historical Journal, 60 (2017), pp. 409–42
- ‘National types: the transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839),’ History of Science, 53 (2015), pp. 264–95
- ‘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. 213–32
- ‘Forgotten dreams: recalling the patient in British psychotherapy, 1945–1960,’ Medical History, 59 (2015), pp. 241–54
- 'Racial science,' in Andrew Goss (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Science and Empire (Routledge, 2021)
- 'Sebastian Conrad, What is Global History? (Princeton, NJ, 2016),' Itinerario, 40 (2016), pp. 334–5
- ‘William Burns, The Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective (Oxford, 2015),’ The British Journal for the History of Science, 48 (2015), pp. 689–90
- ‘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. 567–9
- 'The phrenological bust,' Modern History Review, November 2019.
- 'Five millennia of Indian science,' Nature, 18 October 2017
- 'Ten global milestones in the history of science and technology,' BBC History: The Story of Science and Technology, September 2017
- ‘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
‘Letters of Alfred Russel Wallace go online,’ Nature, 23 January 2013
‘Mathematics: a life computed,’ Nature 486: 321, 2012
- 'Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men,' The Guardian, 19 October 2012
- 'Scott's Last Expedition,' The Guardian, 20 January 2012
‘Big science in a big world,’ Physics World, 30 September 2011
‘From Arabick Roots to the Arab Spring,’ The Guardian, 25 July 2011
- 'A chance to meet real live scientists,' The Guardian, 6 July 2011
I aim to bring the history of science to as wide an audience as possible. I write for national newspapers, websites and magazines including The Guardian and Nature. In 2013 I was shortlisted for the BBC New Generation Thinker Award and in 2012 I was awarded the Best Newcomer Prize by the Association of British Science Writers.
I work closely with museums, curating displays and acting as a consultant for major exhibitions. In the past, I've worked with the Science Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Whipple Museum, Historic Royal Palaces, and Cambridge University Library.
I also sit on the Advisory Board for a Wiley Digital Archives project on the collections of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
- HI153 Making of the Modern World (first-year core module)
- HI2H5 Race and Science: Histories and Legacies (second-year option module)
- HI3S6 Science, Technology, and Global Politics, 1900 to Present (final-year option module)
- IL023 Genetics and Society (interdisciplinary option module in the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning)
- HI996 MA Themes in the History of Sexuality and Gender
- HI998 MA Modern History
- HI999 MA Themes in the History of Science
I am very happy to supervise a wide range of PhD topics related to the history of science, technology or medicine, broadly construed. I am particularly interested in supervising topics which address the history of science and technology in global and colonial contexts. Please email me in the first instance.
Current PhD Students
- Nilakshi Das, "Commonwealth Students, UK Higher Education, and the Making of Global Knowledge Networks, 1950–2000" (co-supervised with Dr Sally Horrocks)
- Catriona Sharples, "Colonial Science and Military Service: The West India Regiments and Circum-Atlantic Networks of Knowledge, 1815–1900" (co-supervised with Professor David Lambert)
- Chen Qing, "The British Empire’s Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, 1915–1941" (co-supervised with Dr Song-Chuan Chen)
- Jack Bowman, "Pan-African Print: Politics in Action—A Book History of the Pan-African Movement, 1935–1955" (co-supervised with Professor Daniel Branch)