About

I am a historian of science, empire and geography. I am currently finalising my PhD at the University of Cambridge, where my dissertation examines the role of global comparison in early scientific and imperial understandings of the Himalaya.

I have published parts of this research – on scientific instruments and altitude sickness – in the journals History of Science and Itinerario. I have also completed an article on war, violence and natural history collecting in Afghanistan, which is forthcoming in Notes and Records. I am now working on a book, which is tentatively titled The Vertical Globe: Science, Empire and the Remaking of the Himalaya.

My research has recently been featured on the University of Cambridge homepage. You can read more about it here: “Pride & Prejudice at High Altitude” (or in Spanish here).

More broadly, I am interested in developing new methodologies for using geographical features like mountains and deserts as sites and scales for global histories. Following from this, my next project will trace contested ideas of the ‘Habitable Globe’ across Central Asia, Persia and Arabia in the nineteenth century.

Prior to coming to Cambridge, I studied and taught history in both Australia and Canada.

“The Snowy Range from Tyne or Marma,” from George Francis White’s Views in India (1838). This is a typically romanticised image of Himalayan exploration, centred on a European traveller gazing heroically out to the mountains through a telescope. However, the Bhotiya porters in the foreground reveal the way he depended heavily on local expertise and labour.

Header Image: www.davidrumsey.com