Erik Linstrum

Associate Professor


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 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.  His most recent book, Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire, 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 BBC teleplays to the West End theater scene.  He is currently at work on two projects: a history of fascism and the British Empire and a microhistorical study of a military-imperial family in the late Victorian world. 

Linstrum has held fellowships with the American Council of Learned Societies, 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 serves as associate editor of the Journal of British Studies and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Modern History.  He was previously editor of the journal Modern British History.  During the 2024-25 year, he is on research leave at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.


Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2023)

"Decolonizing Britain: An Exchange," Twentieth Century British History 33, no. 2 (June 2022): 274-303 (with Stuart Ward, Vanessa Ogle, Saima Nasar, and Priyamvada Gopal)

"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

American Philosophical Society/British Academy Fellowship, 2023
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

Courses Taught

Linstrum teaches surveys of modern British and British imperial history and seminars on a wide range of topics, including comparative imperialism and decolonization, European colonial violence, London, George Orwell, and the history of the human sciences.