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Letter from the Chair

Antoinette Burton

Professor of History
Professor of Gender and Women's Studies
Center for African Studies
Center for Global Studies
Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

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Areas of Specialization

Britain and the Empire, history of Women and Gender, and World history

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Modern Britain and empire; colonial India; women, gender and feminism; postcolonial studies; world history

Research Description

  • I’m a historian of 19th and 20th century Britain and its empire, with a speciality in colonial India and an ongoing interest in Australasia and Africa. I’ve written on topics ranging from feminism and colonialism to the relationship of empire to the nation and the world. Women, gender and sexuality have always been central to my research, much of which has been concerned with the role of Indian women in the imperial and postcolonial imagination. I’ve edited collections about politics, mobility, postcolonialism and empire and have frequently collaborated with Tony Ballantyne (

    At Illinois I have taught courses on modern British history and imperialism, gender and colonialism, autobiography and the archive, approaches and methods and world history. I am currently working on an "ABC" of Victoria's empire; a world history textbook with Tony Ballantyne; and a Bloomsbury series on the cultures of western imperialism.

    My most recent publications are:

    The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism (Oxford University Press, 2015)


    with Dane Kennedy, How Empire Shaped Us (Bloomsbury UK, 2016)

    I am currently the director of the campus humanities center, The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. For more information see I am also the Principal Investigator for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, Humanities Without Walls (


  • B.A. Yale University, 1983
  • M.A. University of Chicago, 1984
  • Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1990

Distinctions / Awards

  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Humanities Without Walls, 2015-2020
  • John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, 2010-11
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2015 (declined)
  • Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies, University of Illinois, 2004-
  • Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities Fellowship, UIUC, 2011-12
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois, 2001-2004
  • William Evans Residential Fellowship, University of Otago (Dunedin, NZ), 2004
  • American Philosophical Society Research Fellowship, 1995
  • NEH summer seminar, “The Culture of London, 1850-1925,” Institute of Historical Research, London, 1995
  • American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship, 1993
  • Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, 1987-88


  • Provost Initiative for Teaching Advancement, for "World Histories from Below" graduate student/teacher training project, 2011-12
  • Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities for course development, "Wars against Nature in the British Empire, 1750-1950," 2011-12
  • NEH Humanities Focus Grant, "The Undergraduate History Core in a Global Age," co-written with Tony Ballantyne and Peter Fritzsche, 2001

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