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Joanna Bourke is Professor of History in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, where she has taught since 1992. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Over the years, her books have ranged from the social and economic history of Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to social histories of the British working classes between 1860 and 1960s, to cultural histories of military conflict between the Anglo-Boer war and the present. She explores history through the lens of gender, ivtersectionalities, and subjectivities. She has worked on the history of the emotions, particularly fear and hatred, and the history of sexual violence.  In the past few years, her research has focussed on questions of humanity, militarisation, and pain. She wrote a book entitled What It Means to Be Human. In 2014, she published two books: Wounding the World. How Military Violence and War Games Invade Our World and The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers.

Her primary focus has been on British, American, and Australian societies from the 1760s to today.

She is currently the Principal Investigator of a 5-year Wellcome Trust project on sexual violence, medicine, and psychiatry called SHaME (or Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters: see

Contact details

Room B12
27 Russell Square
London WC1B 5DQ

Twitter: @bourke_joanna, @shme_bbk