James Poskett

Historian of science, empire and print


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Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race and the Global History of Science, 1815–1920

My first book reconstructs the global history of phrenology through a close study of its material culture.

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.

Following these objects across the globe, Materials of the Mind uncovers the making of the most popular science of the Victorian age.

Empire of Useful Knowledge: Science, Technology and the Global Politics of Print, 1815–1914

My new project suggests how the material techniques of book history provide a promising methodology for writing the global history of science.

Currently, I am focusing on the global history of the useful knowledge movement.

As part of this project I have held research fellowships at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University and the University of Sydney.