Center for Global Studies (CGS)


I am a global historian of Europe and Asia from the late eighteenth century to the present, focusing on resource and environmental history, economic history, and science and empire studies in global and comparative perspective. My first book, German Science in the Age of Empire, explored the transnational nature of European imperialism by looking at the conflicted recruitment of scientific expertise and manpower from the German lands into foreign imperial systems during a period of intensified interactions between Europe and other world regions. I see this book as a reflection on how to conceptualize the movement of people, objects, practices, and ideas in a global perspective, including the social and political frictions that the pursuit of transnational science provoked. The book is based on my dissertation, which garnered three prizes in different fields: the Gisela Bonn Prize of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Martin Behaim Prize of the German Society for Global History, and the Young Scholar Award of the German Society for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (GWMT).

I am currently completing a book project entitled Empire of Scarcity: A Global History of Assam Rubber. The work is a rich study of capitalism, empire, and environmental change, focused on the commodity frontier of rubber in northeast India, which I analyze in its global contexts. It seeks to provide a new understanding of the relationship between the production of specific commodities and the space of empire. Drawing on sources in several European and non-European languages from over 30 archives on three continents, the work explores the legal, social, political, and economic dimensions of rubber extraction and production in Assam, where the world’s first extensive and scientifically managed rubber plantations were established as an act of imperial pre-emption by the colonial state in the early 1870s. The work provides a revisionist account of the plantation revolution for rubber, an indispensable commodity at the heart of the industrial revolution and modern communication and transportation technologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It shows how the West’s growing dependence on the exclusively tropical resource, combined with temporal calculations of its future depletion, required the imperial bureaucracy to develop new outlooks and procedural logics under the pressure of scarcity fears.

Mehr zu Dr. Moritz von Brescius beim Historischen Institut