Corey Ross is co-director of the Commodities of Empire project. Since arriving at Birmingham in 1998, he has held an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in Berlin, a J. Walter Thompson Fellowship at Duke University and was Professeur invité at the Université Paris-II. He recently held a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and from 2018-21 a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. From January to June 2021 he was the Vincent Wright Chair at Sciences-Po Paris. He was previously Head of the University of Birmingham’s History Department, from 2012-2017 was Head of the School of History and Cultures, and is currently Deputy Head of the College of Arts and Law. He is closely involved in the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History and the Birmingham Seminar for Environmental Humanities.
His broad interests are in global environmental history, the history of empire, and the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Europe. His last book was an environmental history of the heyday of European imperialism, from roughly 1880 through the end of the colonial period to the present (Ecology and Power in the Age of Empire, 2017; winner of the 2018 George Louis Beer Prize, AHA). The book explores the environmental transformations and interconnections associated with the explosive growth of commodity production and global trade in the tropical regions under European (mainly British, French, German, Dutch, Belgian) control – transformations that still visibly shape our world today – and how they fitted into broader patterns of social, cultural and political change.
He is currently writing a book (tentatively titled Liquid Empire) on the history of European empire through the lens of water. Focusing temporally on the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, and geographically on the European colonies of Asia and Africa, it tells the story of how different technologies, institutions, and forms of knowledge transformed human engagements with water in the colonial world, and how aquatic nature was reshaped in the process—with lasting consequences for the post-colonial world.