Maya Jasanoff

Coolidge Professor of History

Harvard University

Maya Jasanoff’s teaching and research range from the history of the British Empire into global history. Her new book The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World (Penguin Press, forthcoming November 2017) examines the dynamics of modern globalization through the life and times of the novelist Joseph Conrad.  Her first book, Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850 (Knopf, 2005), explores British expansion in India and Egypt through the lives of art collectors. It was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize and was a book of the year selection in numerous publications including The Economist, The Observer, and The Sunday Times. Jasanoff's 2011 book Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf, 2011) presents the first global history of the loyalists who fled the United States after the American Revolution, and resettled in Canada, the Caribbean, Britain, Sierra Leone, and beyond. Liberty's Exiles won numerous distinctions including the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction, the George Washington Book Prize, and a Recognition of Excellence from the Cundill Prize in History; it was also shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize.  

Jasanoff enjoys teaching undergraduate courses that bring out the "story" in history and consider moments of encounter between states, cultures, and people. In addition to courses on the history of the British Empire, she is currently offering a new multidisciplinary Gen Ed course on the topic of "Ancestry: Where Do We Come From and Why Do We Care?". In 2015 Jasanoff was named a Harvard College Professor for excellence in undergraduate teaching. 

Jasanoff was awarded a 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize in recognition of her contributions to non-fiction literature. Winner of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, she has also been a fellow at the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, and an ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Fellow. Jasanoff has participated in several BBC documentaries, and her essays and reviews regularly appear in publications including The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, and The New York Times.