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Richard Drayton, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., F.R.Hist.S.
Rhodes Professor of Imperial History, King's College London

Educational and Professional Background

Richard Drayton was born in Guyana and grew up in Barbados, where he went to school at Harrison College. He left the Caribbean as a Barbados Scholar to Harvard University, going then to Yale, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation under the direction of Paul Kennedy and Frank Turner. He also spent two years as a graduate student at Balliol College, Oxford as the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar. In 1992 he first came to Cambridge as a Research Fellow of St Catharine's College, moving back to Oxford in 1994 to be Darby Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Lincoln College. After 1998, he was Associate Professor of British History at the University of Virginia. In 2001, he returned to Cambridge as University Lecturer in Imperial and extra-European History since 1500, and as Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Corpus Christi College. In 2002 he was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for History. He was Visiting Professor of History at Harvard University in Spring 2009. He came to King's College, University of London as Rhodes Professor in 2009.

Richard is Senior Research Associate of the Centre for World Environmental History of the University of
Sussex. He was a member of the Academic Advisory Committee on the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum. With Megan Vaughan he edits the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies series of Palgrave-Macmillan and he is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a member of the American Historical Association and the Association of Caribbean Historians. He served as External Examiner for the University of Bristol (2007-10).

Drayton believes that it is important for historians to communicate with the wider public, and in particular to speak up where their work on the past has relevance to the present. He has appeared on BBC radio on 'Nightwaves' and 'In Our Time', has participated in public debates on Britain's imperial past and present, and has published op/ed pieces in the Guardian (including An Ethical Blank Cheque and Africa and the wealth of the West). He has been invited to give many distinguished lectures including “Hybrid time: The Incomplete Victories of the Present Over the Past”, Throckmorton Lecture at Lewis and Clark College (2007); 'The Problem of the Hero in Caribbean History', 21st Elsa Goveia Lecture, University of the West Indies (2004); and 'What happens when two ways of knowing meet?', the Elizabeth T. Kennan Lecture at Mount Holyoke College (2003).

Doctoral Students

Professor Drayton has supervised graduate students for over a decade in Cambridge (2001-9), the University of Virginia (1998-2001), and Oxford (1994-8), many of whom have gone on to academic posts. He has supervised research on a wide range of topics including: British public opinion 's response to the East India Company; the role of the Free People of Colour in the slave societies of Trinidad and Dominica; the career of Archbishop Secker; the policing of British India; the environmental history of the British Empire; Imperial reform in Spain and its Atlantic colonies in the eighteenth century; the British intellectual response to China; Blacks and Asians in London in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the cultural history of exotic fruit in early modern England; the global history of rubber; Curzon's travel writing and the emergence of British geopolitical thought; Opium and Britain's relationship with China, 1833-1842; Opium and the colonial state in nineteenth-century Burma; the experience of Emancipation in Antigua and the forms of social control which followed slavery; the political thought of Sir William Petty; Slave religion in British Guiana; the Conservative Party's response to West Indian immigration in the 1950s; Masks of Gender in Carnival and Calypso in Trinidad; Vichy Martinique and the Prehistory of Postcolonial Thought;, the Black Power rebellion in Trinidad c. 1970, the politics and transculturation of British popular music in the 1970s; imperial themes in the political and economic thought of England in the 1690s; the Palestinian movement after 1967; the BBC and the British Caribbean in the 1950s; and the cultural politics of Ceylon after independence.



o Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the Improvement of the World. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2000
(awarded Morris D. Forkosch Prize for 'the best book in the fields of British history since 1485, British Imperial and British Commonwealth History' by the American Historical Association in 2001).
o (Edited.) CONVERSATIONS George Lamming: Essays, Addresses, Interviews, 1956-1990. London: Karia Press, 1992.


o 'Anglo-American 'Liberal' Imperialism: British Guiana and the World since 9-11', in William Roger Louis, ed., Yet more adventures with Britannia, London I. B. Tauris, 2005

o 'The Strange Late Birth of the British Academy' in M. Daunton, ed., The Organization of Knowledge in Victorian Britain Oxford: The British Academy, 2005.

o 'Putting the British Back into the Empire', Journal of British Studies, 44 (January 2005): 187-193

o 'How Empires Rise', in H. Swain, ed. Big Questions in History, London: Jonathan Cape, 2005.

o 'Taking Back the Head', Introduction to George Lamming, The Pleasures Of Exile. London: Pluto, 2005

o 'The Collaboration of Labour: Slaves, Empires, and Globalizations in the Atlantic World, c. 1600-1850, in A. G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History. London, 2002, pp. 98-114.

o 'Science, Medicine, and the British Empire' in The Oxford History of the British Empire, volume V: Historiography, Robin Winks, ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, October 1999.

o 'A l'école des Français: les sciences et le deuxième empire britannique (1783-1830)' Revue Française d'Histoire D'Outre-Mer, t. 86 (1999) n0 322-333, pp. 91-118.

o 'Empire and Knowledge', in The Oxford History of the British Empire, volume II: The Eightenth Century, P.J. Marshall, ed., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 231-252

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