Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Dr James Poskett


Email: j dot poskett at warwick dot ac dot uk
Phone: 024 7652 2542
Office: H019, ground floor of Humanities Building
Term-Time Office Hours: 14:00–15:00 Mondays and 15:00–16:00 Thursdays (excluding reading week).

Academic Profile

  • 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


    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.



    Edited Books

    • (eds), Migration (Cambridge University Press, 2020), (with Johannes Knolle), 184pp.


    Book Chapters

    • 'Racial science,' in Andrew Goss (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Science and Empire (Routledge, 2021)

    Book Reviews

    Other Writings

    Public Engagement

    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've appeared on broadcast media, most recently for a Classic FM podcast as well as an Audible short story collection.

    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.




    PhD Supervision

    I am very happy to supervise a wide range of PhD topics related to the history of science, technology or medicine, broadly construed. 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)


    Horizons Cover

    Materials of the Mind

    Migration Cover